Desperate, the Discovery Institute begs my readers to ask me to debate intelligent design and the Hedin case

A while back the Discovery Institute invited me to come to their  Evolution News and Views website to debate the Hedin case, intelligent design in general, and Stephen Meyer’s new creationist book on the Cambrian Explosion. They would then, they said, respond to me on that site.

Now why on earth would I do that? I can discuss ID and the Hedin case right here, and, unlike the DI, I allow readers to comment.

My response to the DI’s “invitation” is the same as that given by ecologist Bob May when asked to debate a creationist:

“That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine.”

As for rehashing my views on ID, I’ve done that at length in two essays in The New Republic, “The faith that dare not speak its name” (2005) and “The great mutator” (2007; both free online). And I’ll leave the assessment of the Meyer book to the paleobiology pros, as I have my own book to write.

But the DI persists, and is so desperate to engage me in their pages that they’ve posted an appeal to my readers—that’s right, folks, to YOU—asking you to importune me to debate them on their site.

The inimitable David Klinghoffer sounds this note of desperation at Evilution News and Views in “An appeal to Jerry Coyne’s readers“:

That’s why I turn to [Coyne's] readers. I suppose the leading Darwin defenders in the academic world have a professional stake in seeing lively, informed, critical discussion of their crippled theory muffled. I can also see why some angry, resentful folks among the Darwinist rank-and-file likewise only want to see competing theories squelched, not debated — theories that are friendly, perhaps, to worldviews they have rejected for private, personal reasons of their own.

But the average reader who enjoys Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True for its spritely, pugilistic tone? I’m talking to you. Surely you would enjoy seeing your hero come over and teach us a lesson about “good science” by trouncing us on the actual merit of our ideas, or lack of it? The author of Why Evolution Is True has never done that. Rather than bluffing like Nick Matzke, give us the real goods — the details please — on why ID fails as science.

Or how about you other pro-Darwin bloggers. What about your own readers? I trust that some of you, for goodness sake, would enjoy seeing a champion of the Darwin community like Coyne, having read Darwin’s Doubt, come over here and trounce us? So let Jerry Coyne know your feelings.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if Darwinists really are completely united in a wish to run from any fair fight. Am I wrong to wonder? At least show me that. Go back over to Why Evolution Is True now and tell Coyne you want to see him take us apart, on our home turf. Go on, what are you waiting for?

Now somehow I feel that most of my readers aren’t going to urge me to engage in a debate that is, after all, just putting my regular posts on the DI site instead of here. That would do nothing but get them the traffic they desperately want. And I can tell you that I am not going to engage in that debate. I have the purity of my c.v. to worry about.

But if you want to importune me, or respond to Klinghoffer’s desperate plea, feel free to do so in the comments below. After all, he’s talking to you, but you can’t respond over there.

You ID advocates can also make your case, but the website rules are that we can then ask, before you post further, about your evidence for God The Intelligent Designer.

This is the last time I’ll be engaging the Discovery Institute directly on these issues. DIers are not scientists but religious zealots concealing clerical collars beneath threadbare lab coats. I will debate real scientific issues with other scientists, but not creationism with creationists who pretend to be scientists. After all, real scientists are open to reason, and don’t spend their time making up evidence to buttress a priori emotional commitments.

209 Comments

  1. Newish Gnu
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Dr Coyne wrote: “DIers are not scientists but religious zealots concealing clerical collars beneath threadbare lab coats.”

    Now why would their lab coats be threadbare? Isn’t that what happens from spending time in a lab? Perhaps their lab coats are intelligently designed to appear threadbare. Sadly, I could believe that.

    • Richard Page
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I am a ‘Noidlabcoatist’.

    • Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      They’re threadbare coats because they got them secondhand (previously used by real scientists) from the Salvation Army.

      • Wolfkiller
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        That is giving them too much credit. They got their lab coats from the cheap Halloween costume shop in the mall. On clearance.

      • Pete Moulton
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        Oh. I thought that maybe they’d green-screened the lab coats to go with Gauger’s green-screened lab.

    • Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Because posing in front of blue screened stock photos is *so* hard on the wardrobe, dontchaknow?

  2. John
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I think debating him could go either way, depending how much foolishness he plays. But I am not a fan of internet debates. Ether way this guy needs to be called to task. HOWEVER, I can see how you could see that scenario as a liability, that you condescended to debate a non-scientist about science. Either way, non debating, internet debating, or in live debate, you will in some ways legitimized him, even if you destroyed him.

  3. Todd
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Well, if the ID’ers don’t like to read about evolution, maybe they would at least be willing to watch?

    I watched this PBS show a few months ago, “What Darwin Never Knew”, I found it fascinating.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1372073556

  4. Taylor M. Brown
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “I can also see why some angry, resentful folks among the Darwinist rank-and-file likewise only want to see competing theories squelched, not debated — theories that are friendly, perhaps, to worldviews they have rejected for private, personal reasons of their own.”

    Since when was “God of the gaps” considered scientific theory? Theories are derived from fact, not nothing. How many times must it be said that their hypothesis is not rejected on personal grounds, but on a lack-of-any-sort-of-explanatory-power grounds. You’re right on refusing to rehash what’s been said time and time again.

    Although, it is sad to hear that this will be your last time directly addressing the DI institute, for it makes a wonderful read.

  5. John Harshman
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Good old Casey, catching those flies with vinegar.

  6. godsbuster
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Not to debate might mean a missed opportunity when you are in such a strong position allowing you to make certain demands.

    For example, the typical debate structure of opening statements followed by exchanges of rebuttals should be rejected.

    Richard Dawkins has rightly identified this as the fatal flaw of debating God botherers who are characterized by their intellectual dishonesty. It allows them to go on a Gish Gallop inundating the stage with every form of fallacious reasoning under the sun not to mention outright lies, presentations of long debunked positions as unrefuted, non-sequiturs, wrong facts. So no matter what you present in your rebuttal you’re always outgunned because you can’t possibly refute it all. This is then seen by the uninitiated (those not leaning either way) public at best as an undecided outcome or as you having lost the debate. Which is what happened to none lesser than Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens when they debated William Lane -Kalām cosmological argument- Craig the master of the bullet point Gish Gallop.

    The antidote would be to demand an interrogation type set up where you get to question your opponent without interruption for, say, 20-30 minutes. Assisted by 1. A neutral fact checker with access to a mutually agreed to reputable reference source.
    and 2. a neutral scorekeeper who tallies up the occurrences of fallacies, lies, presenting long debunked positions as unrefuted, non-sequiturs, wrong facts, etc.

    The debater with the lowest total would be the winner and the Discovery Institute would be contractually obligated to publicly announce him as such.

  7. stephen sarbiewski
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    We completely support Dr. Coyne’s debate policy with the “discovery” institute.

  8. Richard Page
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how to post links here, but if you Google Carl Zimmer and Intelligent design, you will find an account of his online Gish Galloping Goose Chase. Maybe all ID and Creationist ‘debate’ requests could simply be answered with a link to Zimmer’s story. That way, people “on the sidelines” who are merely curious about ID would read it, too.

  9. RFW
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    This regular reader of Why Evolution is True says in response to the DI’s request: no.

  10. Mike Herron
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I think something interesting is happening on Google news today.

    Every day for the past couple of years, I have searched google news for articles using the search word “evolution”.

    The tripe from the Discovery Institute is always near the top every day. The rest of the search is littered with other creationist blog posts and editorials from creationists.

    Today for the first time all that nonsense is gone from at least the first 50 entries.

    Has Google changed their algorithm?

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Probably due to this:

      • ladyatheist
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        embedding didn’t work darnit! Here’s the URL:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Very interesting! My cynical self says that they are interested in keeping people within the comfortable confines of their confirmation bias, almost certainly because it is more profitable.

          • ladyatheist
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            Yep. Give us what we “want” so they can sell us what we didn’t know we wanted and really don’t need!

  11. Erik Verbruggen
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    “Sometimes I’ve wondered if Darwinists really are completely united in a wish to run from any fair fight. Am I wrong to wonder? At least show me that.”

    Ever read any scientific journals? That’s where we argue our position with evidence, feel free to come over with yours and we’ll discuss.

    • Richard Page
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Stop with the ‘Darwinists’ already!

      • Diane G.
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        I agree. But it seems to me that locution is rather accepted in the UK?

        • Richard Page
          Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          I’m in New Orleans. Several Brits live in my neighborhood, though.

          I call them on their little tactic… otherwise, they go on to say things like ‘Godless Darwinists’ or ‘Hard-Core Darwinists’, etc. ‘Godless Biologists,’ or ‘Hard-Core Paleontologists’ sound silly, so no propaganda value. In my case, it’s even worse… ‘Oppressive Art Director’? Heh!

      • Posted June 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Are you yelling at Eric for quoting Klinghoffer saying “Darwinists?” I think that may be taking it too far.

        • Richard Page
          Posted June 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          Oppresive quotist!

  12. Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Good judgment call. No reason they couldn’t come here and challenge you in your open comment sections. They are both unworthy, and untrustworthy.

  13. quiscalus
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

    George Bernard Shaw

    ‘Nuff said

  14. Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Dear Discovery Institute – Intelligent Design and Creationism has already been debated and resolved. The scientific community and the courts have given their decision, and you have lost. What will it take for you to admit you are wrong? What is the sense in rehashing this issue, or whether the earth is flat and the moon is made out of Green cheese?

    What would a debate resolve? Is there any possibility that the DI would admit it was mistaken and stop pushing Creationism and Intelligent Design? All the facts have long been presented and ignored and denied by the DI. And, why should anyone bother debating the DI? What good would it do? We already know the DI will not accept any fact and any evidence that does not agree with biblical text.

    If the above questions are answered honestly and intelligently, perhaps someone will agree to debate with you.

  15. Sam Chapman
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    OMG, the time wasted debating these ID “scientist” could be spent eating, smelling flowers, petting a cat, or touring the Art Institute (my fav, BTW). Forget them.

  16. Roo
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, I have mixed feelings. While I don’t like this specific idea, I am all for adding a Jerry’s Readers Implore Him To Do Things section. I, for one, would like a wacky hat day, where we beg you to pose with various hilarious headwear on throughout the week. Giant mug of beer hat! Hot dog hat! I love Intelligent Design hat… waaait a minute, which one of you wacky Creationists slipped that in there!? Tsk. Also, I am still bothered by your lack of cat ownership and would like a forum to express my complex emotions and general angst regarding this issue.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Okay that will just get dangerous. Any of my friends will tell you that I often try to get them to do things. I often hear, “stop trying to get me to do things; stop trying to get me in trouble”. The only time I’m really successful though is when the funny is too much for them to resist or they’re drunk.

  17. misstexaskitty
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen Darwin’s Dilemma, that was enough of being open minded for this chick. I don’t need to hear more debates or sermons about evolution. It may not have occurred to Stephen Myers but some of us are not lacking in education and have evolved to make these choices.

  18. Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Prof Coyne is wise to refuse to debate fools: they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    • gbjames
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      “refuse to debate fools”

      You’re so harsh. Strident, even.

  19. Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    How many times do we have to tell creationists that science is not a debate!!??

  20. Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    What is there to debate with those who don’t understand scientific facts?

  21. Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Creationists and ID’ists appear to think that truth is arrived at by lengthy discussions and debates and musings and polls; scientists have discovered that the way to truth is to observe, test, replicate, confirm/falsify – and, crucially, to adjust/discard theories given new/more complete data.

    So let’s propose this to the DI:

    As soon as the DI engages in something actually approaching science and conducts a single, replicable experiment (based on a falsifiable hypothesis) designed to investigate the presence of Intelligent Design and has the results published in an actual, non-vanity-press scientific journal, “we” will send a scientist to debate them.

    Basically: you humour us; we’ll humour you.

    You want to challenge science, do so using science. Then we’ll challenge Deisign.

    OR: just open the comments at the DI.

    Once that happens I can practically guarantee a “lively debate”. Then again, the fact that the DI appears to believe that truth is arrived at by force of numbers may well be reason enough to compel them to keep comments closed.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Great post.

      I want to add the following to it; it comes from pages 115-116 of the updated paperback edition of Forrest & Gross’ book Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design and seems à propos in light of their non-response to Nick Matzke’s post demolishing Meyer’s new book (see also PZ yesterday at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/06/25/its-summer-head-asplodey-time/)

      “How then do the ID theorists respond to the strong professional criticism? They continue to publish and confer and advise all the more frenetically, although never yet in the appropriate place: the scientific journals. Nearly all of Dembski’s and Behe’s fusillades are fired from their own websites, or from other sites committed to religious apologetics, or via books issued (with a few exceptions) by religiously committed presses. Dembski boasts of the advantage of going straight to the popular audience rather than running the gauntlet of legitimate scientific peer review: “I’ve just gotten kind of blase about submitting things to journals where you can often wait two years to get things into print…And I find I can actually get the turnaround faster by writing a book and getting the ideas expressed there. My books sell well. I get a royalty. And the material gets read more” (citation below). Clearly, then, avoiding the scientific venues is a deliberate strategy.”

      Citation to Dembski’s quote: Beth McMurtrie, “Darwinism Under Attack,” Chronicle of Higher Education 48:17, accessible (for subscribers only) at http://chronicle.com/article/Darwinism-Under-Attack/6594

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        It does seem somewhat deliberate (and also inevitable) as ID is political more than anything else and going to the people is a good way to get political changes and to sneak your stuff into established institutions where it normally would not go.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          Take out the word “somewhat” and I agree with you 100%! ;-)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            LOL, okay agreed, I’ll remove “somewhat”. :)

  22. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    LOL! It is stinking of desperation to get a web presence that counts.

    And I will naturally importune Coyne to not debate what was soundly rejected over a century ago. Does astronomy debate astrology? Does physics debate aetherists? Does medicine debate homeopathy? Does biology debate religion?

    It is less than meaningless, it lends authority to those who have none.

    their crippled theory

    Grandeur of delusions, I see. That, or using Goebbels’s maxim:

    “The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

  23. irritable
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    If peer reviewed papers dealing with ID were accepted for publication by reputable scientific journals it would be possible for ID proponents to claim that there was some science to debate.

    That hasn’t happened.

    The current position is as if Young Earth creationists insisted that a senior member of the American Geological justify in debate the ridiculous proposition that the earth is older than 6,000 years.

    Or for David Miscavige to insist that a senior representative of the American Psychiatric debate him about the existence of engrams.

  24. Posted June 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I would like to see a debate that allows neither the use of biblical passages as “evidence” of creationism, nor the poking holes in the mountains of current evidence.

    If they could come to the table with actual scientific peer reviewed evidence FOR the case of creationism, that would be the only time they would (maybe) be worth the time to debate. But, we all know that’s not going to happen.

  25. Marella
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I could not possibly support anything that would take Jerry’s precious time away from US!! The very idea! The book is acceptable because I intend to read it. Foreign web-sites are an appalling suggestion. RELIGIOUS web-sites are completely unacceptable. Poor Jerry would be sucked into a miasma of stupid that he’d struggle to find his way out of, it would be too ghastly for words.

    Laurence Krauss is debating William Lane Craig in Melbourne soon and I’m torn, I want to see Laurence but I don’t wish to have to listen to Craig. What do?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha, do what I do & if you’re watching a recording, fast forward past those bits or if it’s live just put on earphones and listen to something else for his part ;)

      • Marella
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s live, I guess I could take my iPhone and listen to something else.

  26. neil
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    DI does not need more debate, it needs some facts. It could punch a great big hole in “Darwinism” simply by discovering a contradictory fact.

    What are they, the Discovery Institute or the Debate Institute?

    • Achrachno
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Apologetics Institute would be a better name.

    • eveysolara
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      People would pay attention if they actually published something useful/insightful. At that point they wouldn’t even care about debating, they could fun an entire city with their ID theory.

      • eveysolara
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        *fund

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          Oh, they have fun a whole world with their antics!

  27. MNb
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    “Sometimes I’ve wondered if Darwinists really are completely united in a wish to run from any fair fight.”
    When I want to enjoy a fair fight I watch football/soccer.
    When I pursue knowledge I rely on the scientific method and not on the logical fallacies of creacrappers like the people from DI. Knowledge has nothing to do with fairness.
    Any evolutionary biologist should only debate creacrappers if and only if:
    1. he/she enjoys it;
    2. he/she is good at it;
    3. there is some chance that (parts of) the audience might learn something.

    Obviously these conditions are not fulfilled.

  28. Achrachno
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I importune you: please invite Klinghoffer to jump into the nearest lake.

  29. David Duncan
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t bother, debating creationists and IDiots is almost always a waste of time.

  30. Mark Joseph
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Klinghoffer:

    I’m sorry no one wants to debate you. I want to, but the comments on your blog are disabled. I hope you won’t mind if I start it here. I’ve got two or three questions in which I’m interested, but I’ll only pose one of them now.

    It seems self-evident that a theory of Intelligent Design presupposes an Intelligent Designer. Please provide the details of how your specific theory of Intelligent Design defines and describes the designer, along with the appropriate experiments showing that (1) this designer really exists (I trust you’ll indulge me far enough to accept my assertion that the existence of such a designer, while conceivable, is not self-evident); (2) that this designer is indeed the Intelligent Designer of life on earth, as opposed to some other conceivable designer (see, for example, David Brin’s list of conceivable designers at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/01/brin-classics-other-intelligent-designs.html); and (3) the mechanisms and a brief, outline history of the designer’s designing of life on earth. I’m presuming that these mechanisms and history would look very different from those of unintelligent random mutations and natural selection, played out over the last approximately 3.8 billion years, according to the general scheme given in, say, Futuyma’s textbook on evolution, but I may be wrong, and I look forward to your disquisition.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Joseph

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      +1.

  31. eveysolara
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    lol David really has it in for you doesn’t he? He already responded with a hilarious post.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha and he quotes some of us and calls us
      “ignorant”. Oh the irony.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        Even if we were ignorant, that’s still better than being a fraud.

    • Richard Page
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Yep, man’s got a future… in the Catskills. I agree with his last sentence, though.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      Oh, don’t I feel stupid now! Of course he would go with the “fear” response, instead of responding to the apt description of ‘gravity deniers’. I should have guessed that.

      This is too LOLzy though:

      Note well: he [Coyne] wrote a book defending an idea the criticism of which he had already ceased paying serious attention to some five years earlier.

      As if a physicist writing a book on why relativity is true (as opposed to a century ago abandoned aether ideas, say) would be accused of “defending an idea the criticism of which he had already ceased paying serious attention to”.

      To pay serious attention to an idea, it needs to be serious in the first place. IDiots espouse magical thinking, so no serious attention will ever be paid to them.

      And really, what new, accepted results have they published in 5 years? In 10? Zip.

      OK, having read an icky religious piece for the first time in many years I seriously need to go wash my brain now.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted June 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        “To pay serious attention to an idea”. I meant to criticism.

        But the same goes for that. Instead of publishing on their IDeas, they published evolution denial in the form of “Darwin’s Doubt” et cetera. And it got soundly rejected in short time by Matzke among others, I’m sure, who works with paleontology.

  32. Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you could agree to a debate if they were to stipulate that Ceiling Cat is the logical candidate for Intelligent Designer.

  33. Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I too would urge Jerry to NOT debate these IDiots.

    A “debate,” as I understand the word, is a form of dialectic involving two opposing points of view *that are (more or less) equally likely to be true.*

    One cannot “debate” a question like “Is the Earth flat?” because we already know the answer.

    Similarly, to “debate” an IDiot is to admit that their position is at least as meritorious as a position rooted in science and reason. And that is entirely absurd.

    I personally am in favour of just calling out all forms of irrationality and WooWoo, of proving them wrong – repeatedly if necessary – without ever engaging with them directly. They have not earned our respect and certainly do not deserve our time in “debates.”

  34. eric
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Surely you would enjoy seeing your hero come over and teach us a lesson about “good science” by trouncing us on the actual merit of our ideas, or lack of it?

    I would! Of course, the “actual merit” of scientific ideas are published in peer review journals, not on web pages. I look forward greatly to JAC’s review of the publication of the first experimental test of a well-defined and testable ID hypothesis in a peer review journal.

    But I won’t be holding my breath.

  35. eveysolara
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, science moves on

    Cambrian Fossil Unearthed In Morocco May Shed Light On Evolution Of Starfish, Sea Urchins

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/cambrian-fossil-morocco-evolution-starfish-sea-urchins_n_3502056.html

  36. ploubere
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Tell them to come back when they have some actual evidence, instead of just strained and tiresome rhetoric.

  37. Alicia LeMarie
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Well, it seems to me that part of the job of the scientific community is to debate and defend its research, hypotheses, theories, and laws. Why not debate them as they are saying you are a coward? If not, the controversy will continue to grow and swell and with it others will be carried away, as their PhD’s are out there explaining their side, and if you don’t show up to defend and refute, who will?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      You sort of answered your own question when you mentioned scientific community. The DI aren’t in the scientific community. Also, who cares if they call Jerry a coward. There opinion doesn’t matter. Again I say, meh.

      • Alicia LeMarie
        Posted June 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        But the Discovery Inst is convincing many people and making their case and why not silence them? I mean, can’t the evidence speak for itself, if thrown in their faces? Intelligent Design is gaining ground, especially with Shapiro’s comments against natural selection and now Harvard’s Dr. Geo. Church against evolution of the ribosome. And who is Dr. Stanley Salthe, who is on Discovery’s website saying he is an evolutionary apostate? Do we have good evidence to present?

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted June 27, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          Mountains of evidence has been presented in books and on websites. The little that they’ve presented has been refuted; the steaming mounds of covert theology they spew forth has been ignored. Their ignorance and arrogance has been thrown in their faces. They are not listening. In other words, it is a waste of time to debate them. Read this comment thread all the way through; you’ll see that one common comment is something to the effect that “when they open their blog for comments, we will ask questions and present evidence there.” Check out my letter to Mr. Klinghoffer above, or the post by hank_says at #71, Jonathan Houser’s comment at #23 and Adrian’s at #24, or Dr. Coyne’s spot-on response in his original posting. And, as gbjames mentioned in his response to you, “Controversy? There is no controversy.” Until they explain who the designer is, and how it designed life on earth, there is only a “manufacturoversy”.

          In short, we have lives to live.

        • eveysolara
          Posted June 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Where did Dr. Church come out against the evolution of the ribosome?

          Stanley Salthe is old news.

          • Alicia LeMarie
            Posted June 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            Here is the comment by Dr. Church:

            The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure — it’s the most complicated thing that is present in all organisms. Craig does comparative genomics, and you find that almost the only thing that’s in common across all organisms is the ribosome. And it’s recognizable; it’s highly conserved. So the question is, how did that thing come to be? And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that’s what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be? – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/05/george_church_p072741.html#sthash.PQW8tFNO.dpuf

            Plus Dr. Church endorsed their book and has a quote on the dust jacket, according to their website.

        • Posted June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          Why not silence them? I mean, can’t the evidence speak for itself, if thrown in their faces?

          I kind-of hate to pile on here, but I cannot help it. Do you actually think that silencing the ID advocates is a part of the game they are playing? That they would recognize and (this is important) *properly interpret* evidence if it was presented? Have you ANY idea how they operate?

          You really think they haven’t seen the evidence, and this is what their problem is?You think they haven’t read WEIT (among other takedowns of their silliness)?

          Really? Or are you trolling?

          • Brujo Feo
            Posted June 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

            “Or are you trolling?”

            I was resisting saying that…

          • Alicia LeMarie
            Posted July 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Well, in reading the intro of “Why Evolution is True” the statistics show me that more dialogue is needed, not less, because if the evolution side is silent, creation/id’ers are literally shouting from the housetops. They want a debate and if we do not debate, it will be interpreted as if we are contemptuous of them, which is true without apology, but what is bad is that they may also think we do not have all our ducks in a row and are afraid of losing the debate. This is being said – Jerry Coyne – full of fear and trembling, won’t debate. The 06 survey mentioned in the book intro states that 39% of Americans reject evolution with 21% undecided. In Turkey only 25% accept evolution and 75% reject. Nearly 2/3’s of Americans feel if evolution is taught in school, creationism should be too. And nearly 1 in 6 teachers believes in humans being created in their present form within the last 10,000 years. I just think there is widespread misunderstanding that only informed biologists can explain clearly and comprehensively in a debate. But whatever. I’m not a troll.

            • Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

              All our ducks in a row… along with all our duck ancestors, feathered dinosaurs, …

              /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

                Nice!

            • Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

              Oh good grief.

              The evolution side is *not* silent. They are, as you noted, writing *books* in which “informed biologists can explain clearly and comprehensively” — like the one you cite (another such is Dawkins’ The Greatest Show On Earth”, published about the same time). And writing websites (this is only one of many). And supporting organizations like the National Council on Science Education (not to mention the many general-skepticism groups).

              So the evolution side is available all over the internet and in print for anyone who cares to look; the rebuttals have been made and made again. The ID/creationists are arguing in bad faith when they so much as claim that there is still a serious debate to be had — as far as the subject matter is concerned, they *lost*, years ago. There is no “dialogue” to be had with liars and fools, and no one should feel compelled to enter into one, on their turf, on their terms.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

                ….as well as all the work being done by various individuals and groups to keep ID out of schools. Dialogue is not what is needed, education is what is needed. There is nothing productive to come out of a discussion with people who will distort anything that is said.

              • Diane G.
                Posted July 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                Hear, hear!

                The debate format is a lousy one for presenting science; so much of its successes depend on charisma, question-dodging, glibness, etc. The only way to “debate” science is to announce you’re unable to replicate results or to propose an evidence-based theory that other scientists can test.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted June 27, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          “Intelligent Design is gaining ground, especially with Shapiro’s comments against natural selection and now Harvard’s Dr. Geo. Church against evolution of the ribosome.”

          In you dreams. (Aka lacks references. And what would a geologist (?) know of biology?)

          Also, since I’m interested in astrobiology, I can see scores of results on the evolution of the ribosome especially since it is so old.

          More interestingly, since it is part of the bottleneck situation where metabolism and RNA passed into cooperation, the constraints allow for selecting most likely pathways. The shortest, and therefore more likeliest, pathway I know of is producing initially random proteins. It turns out the triplet code is the smallest possible brownian ratchet that RNA can evolve for assured unidirectional strand separation.

          And that is what seems tested in protein fold phylogenies! The oldest folds are, without exception I think, also the ones that drags around most random sequences between active parts. Meaning the proteins slowly evolved to be adapted for function, say by recycling them instead of having to export messy random gunk.

          Similarly, the generic promiscuous nature of the earliest proteins likely show that they weren’t initially vital for specific functions.

          I think the evolution of the ribosome is destined to become one of the more shining examples of biology.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted June 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

            Yes, what they all said :) & “debating” something where as others have said there is no debate and there is no controversy because this has already been put to rest by evidence, just adds credence to long ago discredited ideas.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted June 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          “Harvard’s Dr. Geo. Church”.

          Ah, it may be the geneticist George Church. What an odd attribution, like Alicia doesn’t know what she is talking about.

          I think this may go back to a, now dated, Edge discussion from -07 where ID happened to be mentioned. It has the suspects Church and Shapiro, but in that case Venter’s, Lloyd’s and Freeman’s contributions are cherry-picked away in the IDiotic way.

          At a guess, this is a cherry-pick that has festered among the creationists since then.

          Never mind that we now know a lot more about the ribosome specifically, or abiogenesis in general. Lane & Martin’s homology discovery between early autotroph metabolism and alkaline hydrothermal vents must be grappled with now, and it is still fully open whether it all happened pre-ribosome. We have very much moved beyond the ribosome as far as origin of cells is concerned.

          So this is now the new “flagella” of IDiots? What a creative concept, reuse something (‘irreducible complexity’) that didn’t work the first time either.

        • Posted June 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          Intelligent Design is not gaining ground at all – at least not scientifically, which is really the only ground that matters in this case. Why have they not gained ground? Because they perform no research and can point to no data to back up their claims that life was designed, apart from waving at particular biological mechanisms or structures and asserting “That’s too complex to have evolved!” That they continue to do this, even when their favourite structures or mechanisms are explained to them in detail, reveals them as dishonest and not interested at all in actual science.

          ID is not only not science – it’s not even a testable hypothesis.

          The only reason ID has gained any ground at all is because of the tireless PR efforts of the DI to ignorantly attempt to poke holes in evolutionary theory – and the general gullibility of certain types of American Christian. You’ll notice that in the rest of the developed world ID barely rates a mention as anything other than a curiosity, because 1) most other first-world nations are less overtly religious than the US and 2) they know that ID is vacuous non-science and a transparently religious attempt to attack evolution and support creationism. ID is little more than a creationist in a lab coat saying “I aint no monkey” but using more syllables (and sometimes fancy-looking but ultimately useless mathematics).

    • gbjames
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Controversy? There is no controversy.

  38. Gabrielle Guichard
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Would the invitation be more tempting if they promised you could zip-line?

  39. Keith Riggle
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you Jerry. There are more pressing matters than debating them on their terms, like the impending science textbook selection by the Texas State Board of Education. Public hearings could begin as soon as July, although probably not until September. I plan to attend and speak up for real science and against junk science like ID. Are there any other Texas readers willing to collaborate on a presentation?

  40. AdamK
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I insist that you debate their theory, just as soon as they come up with a theory to debate.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted June 27, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      They do have a theory; it was most concisely explicated by The Sensuous Curmudgeon at http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/intelligent-design-the-great-incongruity/

      “An unknown intelligence (whether it’s a solitary creature or a vast swarm is never addressed), with utterly unknown characteristics (mortal or immortal, sexual or asexual, plant or animal, physical or spiritual), whose home base is unknown, and whose ultimate origin is a mystery (evolved, created, or eternal), arrived on earth somehow (in a flying saucer, perhaps), at some unspecified time (or several times), and then in some unspecified way (technological or magical), for unspecified reasons (boredom, or maybe cosmic fulfillment), did something (or maybe several things) to influence the genetic characteristics of some (but maybe not all) of the creatures on earth.”

      Debate that! ;-)

  41. Posted June 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you Jerry. There are more pressing matters than debating them, like the impending science textbook selection by the Texas State Board of Education. Public hearings could begin as soon as July, although probably not until September. I plan to attend and speak up for real science and against junk science like ID. Are there any other Texas readers willing to collaborate on a presentation?

  42. Sagra
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    DI is a black hole of stupid whose only purpose is to absorb all available attention. It’s like the Kardashians of pseudo-science.

  43. Robert L Turner
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    The Discovery Institute sounds remarkably like it’s in third grade. No, don’t waste your time.

  44. Sam
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    “Sometimes I’ve wondered if Darwinists really are completely united in a wish to run from any fair fight. ”

    This from a sleazy character assassin that routinely blocks any and all comments on his disinformation cheer leading hit pieces and won’t post his ignorant invective ANYWHERE but access-controlled right-wing creationist blogs?

    Simply amazing.


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