IDiots once again justify their name

They go after me a lot at the Uncommon Descent website, a vehicle for intelligent design [ID] creationism, and I usually ignore them.  But their latest tirade is so ludicrously ignorant that I have to single it out. Here it is in full:

What a thicket of ignorance we must chop through here!  My response is fivefold:

1.  To change something like a cat into something like a dog through artificial selection involves modifying not just its morphology, but its physiology, its brain, its neurology, and its (hard-wired) behavior.  That would take a gazillion generations of artificial selection.  I have no doubt we could do this had we thousands or tens of thousands of years to do that kind of breeding, but a) we haven’t because b) nobody’s interested in doing that.  Nevertheless (go to #2),

2.  Artificial selection clearly has created forms that, if found in the fossil record, or if you saw them and didn’t know they were products of artificial selection, would clearly be regarded as different species.  Here’s what humans have done to the wild mustard in just a short span of time:

All seven descendant vegetables have the same common ancestor, and were bred for various traits (the odious Brussels sprout, for example, for small unopened heads). Does anybody doubt that if we found fossil impressions of these, or saw them growing as wild plants in nature, they’d be regarded as different species, or even different genera?

And then there are these:

As I document in WEIT, there is much more variation among living breeds of dogs—artificially selected within the past 10,000 years at most—than there is among the wild species of canids in nature.  If dog breeds like the two above were found in the fossil record, they’d be regarded at least as different species, or even different genera (remember that Australopithecus and Homo are different genera).  That’s a remarkable transformation in a short period of time.

Now I don’t regard the different breeds of dogs as biological species in the sense that, by breeding between different pairs (in the case above, mating the small dog to a slightly bigger dog, and its hybrid to an even bigger dog, and so on), you could conceivably mix the genes of any two breeds, and that miscibility is the hallmark of “biological species”. But that’s only because breeders have not selected for reproductive incompatibility between breeds, but for morphological and behavioral differences.  We can’t test the ecological differences between breeds (though a Chihuahua and a mastiff surely are completely isolated sexually), but it would take longer to get reproductive incompatibility via hybrid sterility and inviability, which normally result from the interactions between many genes. Artificial selection doesn’t usually create that kind of extensive genetic change.  Nevertheless (go to #3),

3.  Researchers in the lab have successfully created reproductive isolation between forms (“species,” if you will) via artificial selection.  This has been done in several studies of Drosophila (see my book with Allen Orr, Speciation).  In fact, one experiment by Bill Rice and George Salt produced almost complete ecological isolation between two sublines of a single species (D. melanogaster) within only 30 generations of selection—roughly a year in the lab. That’s remarkable, for, as Rice and Salt say in their paper, “One of the principal difficulties with the study of speciation is that it occurs quite slowly on a microevolutionary scale, despite its apparent rapidity in the fossil record.”

Further, as I also documented in WEIT, botanists have created new plant species in the laboratory through polyploidy, precisely mimicking a process that occurs often in nature. (Anywhere between 2 and 10% of new plant species form through polyploidy, and others arise through diploid hybrid speciation, a process also duplicated in experimental studies of plants). We’ve even made, in the lab, the same species that have arisen in nature, simply by crossing the same two parental species that gave rise to the new polyploid species in the wild.

4.  And, of course, there are all those transitional forms in the fossil record showing that, despite the IDiots’ objections, new genera, families, and even orders have arisen through natural selection. Here’s one such transformation—the evolution of whales from a terrestrial artiodactyl (even-toed ungulate) ancestor:

We have all of those transitional forms, and they occur in the order given.

Here’s a likely starting point, the putative ancestral form Indohyus, a small, deerlike creature with many features that show both semiaquatic behavior and morphological adaptations that could be precursors to those of modern whales,

Artwork by Carl Buell

Here’s one descendant:

Humpback whales

How long did this transformation take? Only eight million years! Remember that humans are only five or six million years removed from our common ancestor with chimps, and the difference between ourselves and chimps (in terms of morphology) is far less than the difference between Indohyus  and modern whales.

And there are, of course, the many transitional fossils between fish and amphibians (e.g., Tiktaalik), between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and mammals (the so-called “mammal-like reptiles”), and between reptiles and birds. Oh, and also between hominins in the lineages spanning Australopithecus to modern humans. But IDers don’t like to talk about that transformation.  Yes, Jon Wells and Michael Behe are African apes.

5.  The unknown IDer who wrote the screed above claims that I don’t get to decide what is or is not a serious objection to evolution.  True—I don’t, not by myself.  But the scientific community does, and that community does not include the religiously-motivated proponents of ID.

Further, “what is objectionable to others” is not the criterion for what we consider a serious problem with evolution. When a serious scientist like Steve Gould asserts that the pattern of evolutionary change is jerky rather than gradual, we pay attention.  When religiously-motivated creationists like those at the Discovery Institute argue that major evolutionary transitions can’t occur because we haven’t bred a cat into a dog, we don’t pay attention.  That’s because that argument was already debunked long ago—any natural history museum instantly shows its error.  For the same reasons we don’t need to pay attention to the arguments of Holocaust deniers and flat-earthers.  The people who determine what is a serious objection to a well-founded scientific theory are other scientists, for that’s who we listen to when judging the merit of our own results.

And by “other scientists,” I don’t mean Bible-thumpers with Ph.D.s, like Michael Behe. Their motivation is not the honest pursuit of truth, but the glorification (and verification) of God by debunking His most powerful enemy: natural selection.


  1. Jeffrey Shallit
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    It’s just Denyse “Sneery” O’Leary, who doesn’t know anything about evolution and can’t be bothered to learn.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      She’s too busy baking cookies via recipes from her Catholic coloring book.

  2. Claimthehighground
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Cat into dog in four steps:

    and on the fifth say he rested.

    • gbjames
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      lol. excellent.

    • bonetired
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink


  3. Claimthehighground
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Hey, that’s day not say, by the way

    • Greg G
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      I like “say” better.

    • DTaylor
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Right. It’s say. “In the beginning was the word…”

  4. Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Jerry, do you have any idea who the “91 percent” are who find your analysis unconvincing?

    91 % of whom? Evangelical snake-jugglers? (With MoE of +/- 9%)

    • newenglandbob
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      It isn’t 91%. The IDiots are poor at math too.

  5. andreschuiteman
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    The ignoramus who wrote that doesn’t even know that ‘genera’ is the plural of ‘genus’.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Also that data is the plural of datum. L

      • Tulse
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

        data is the plural of datum

        I fight that battle daily, and fear I am losing it.

        • Martin
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:19 am | Permalink

          Perhaps you don’t have enough datums to prove your point.

        • Darth Dog
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          Sadly, Latin may soon be a dead language.

          • Rob
            Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            Not as long as it’s on ATMs

        • RFW
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          “Data” appears to be changing into an “uncountable” noun, like air, cloth, land, ink, etc. The measure of such nouns is how much, not how many. “I have a lot of data demonstrating that IDers are willfully ignorant grifters intent on fleecing the stupid and the uneducated.”

          Not “I have many data demonstrating (etc)”

          A specific instance of data is now called a “data point”, and “datum” is obsoltete. Like it or not. Languages do change.

          • Ash
            Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

            ”Like it or not. Languages do change.”
            Yes, they evolve!

            Oh, wait… or is that all down to intelligent design too… I’m confused….

            • microraptor
              Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

              There is no way that English is intelligently designed.

  6. joe piecuch
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    try roasting split brussels sprouts in olive oil at about 425 degrees until just blackened, then garnish with balsamic vinegar…mmm!!! far more satisfying than InDigestion.

    • Tulse
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      No matter how tasty, I just can’t stomach the notion of eating brussels sprouts, as the plant looks like something from the garden of Cthulhu — when I look at the plant I fear that each sprout will actually blink.

      • Linda Grilli Calhoun
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        Little Shop of Horrors? L

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Hey guys, that’s Brussels sprouts.

        And I’ll have to try that grilling. I think the mini cabbages are cute, but every time I try them, yuck!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

        It’s the smell of hydrogen sulphide they give off that puts me off. Or was that broad beans? One of the best things about growing up, almost on a par with realising I was an atheist, was the knowledge that I would never have to eat brussels sprouts ‘because they were good for me’ ever again. Or broad beans.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Yes, the boiled sprout is odious, but baked or broiled they’re excellent. Funny how a small change can make such a big difference — you just have to select correctly.

      BTW — there’s yet another “recently” selected form of Brassica oleracea that might look to a creationist like another species/product of a separate creation event. Search for images of Romanescu.

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

        Or, here’s a pretty good one:

        Gemüse - Romanesco 02

        • Noadi
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

          First time I saw romanescu I thought someone was messing with me. They just look unreal.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          That’s just awesome! Math you can eat, I love it!

          • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

            Maybe it goes well with almonds and bread?

            • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

              OR…(and perhaps more fitting)…

              I wonder what Ms. Child would’ve done with such an ingredient.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          Wow! It has a spiral arrangement of bumps, and each of the bumps has its own spiral of smaller bumps… it’s like a Mandelbrot cabbage!

      • RFW
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Boiled (better, steamed) Brussels sprouts are only odious when overcooked. If cooked merely al dente, retaining a bright green color and a certain amount of crunch, instead of being boiled to grey-green balls of mush, they are delicious.

        One of the key elements in Successful Cooking of the Brussels Sprout™ is to cut the larger ones in halves or quarters. Better, however, to buy the smallest in the bin.

        Now kohl-rabi, that’s another story altogether.

        • Neil
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          Sprouts are not odious to me. Odorous, maybe.

          • Julia
            Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

            I love boiled Brussels sprouts.

            I am the 1%.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      I like salt, pepper, olive oil and roast. With the salt, the really blackened crunchy bits taste kinda like popcorn. Gotta try the basalmic vinegar added after roasting.

  7. Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Umm… they blatantly misquoted you in the title of the article to sell their invalid point. They quote as Jerry saying “The fact that a cat can’t be turned into a dog…” which is not at all what WEIT says. IDers lying for Jebus again.

    Besides, their own argument defeats ID as well as they say “If it cannot be replicated [it is] a ‘defeater'” and since ID presumably and reasonably can only possibly have happened once it cannot be repeated so it is a failed hypothesis.

  8. darrelle
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    That article is hilarious! All you need to know about people like this, and those that are swayed by them, is gloriously displayed in that article. The author sounds just like a 4th grader arguing on a playground, fooling herself that she is scoring big points, clueless to the fact that most of the other children are laughing at her.

    It never ceases to amaze me how truly childish, simple minded and pouty these religious talking heads so often are. If only we could prevent them from fouling up our 21st century with their bronze age morals and beliefs, we could file them under comedy and enjoy the occasional chuckle at their expense with no worries.

    • RFW
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Hey, it brings the money in, so who cares if it sounds childish to those less easily fooled?

  9. Pray Hard
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Once in a Blue Moon, I imagine trying to convince the religious people in the itty bitty Texas town I grew up in. Then I just give up that silly idea and have another cup of coffee.

  10. Greg G
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    A video that YouTube associated with the Cat Fail post is Pit Bull Thinks it’s a Cat. The guy’s voice in the video sounds like bobsmeerfak, but not really.

  11. Frank
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I find that that the best way to shut up a creationist/IDer is to encourage him or her to publish their objections to evolution, or evidence for creationism, in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. I follow with the conjecture that, if their claims withstand scientific scrutiny, they will certainly and quickly supplant Einstein as the most famous scientist in history, and thereby acquire a large fortune. Of course, they might retort that such an attempt would be futile because of the worldwide conspiracy among “those scientists,” but I remind them about that patent clerk in Bern. Most recently, this suggestion did seem to work with a physics major, who claimed that quantum mechanics precludes the non-randomness needed for natural selection (and clearly had no idea how natural selection really works).

    • Tim
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      The same is a useful tactic with climate deniers. Arguing with morons who tell you that the greenhouse effect is in conflict with the 2nd law of thermodynamics is pointless. I just suggest that they are incredibly insightful for noticing what so many accomplished physical chemists have failed to pick up on, and that their ideas really should be submitted to Science or Nature to make the biggest impact. Of course, they’ll probably have to flesh out the physics a bit…

  12. Hempenstein
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    In Sweden, it’s harder to escape the notion that cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and rutabagas are all related – respectively: vitkål, grönkål, blomkål, brysselkål, kålrot. AFAIK, broccoli is broccoli.

    I expect that the case has been made that without the Brassica cultivars and their superior overwintering properties + vitamin C content, probably esp kale/collards (=probably the first ones), that H sapiens could never have colonized so far into areas with long winters.

    And hey, I LIKE brussels sprouts. (But it wasn’t till I was once in Finland that I found something made of rutabagas that I liked: shredded rutabagas, carrots and cheese baked on a pie crust.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Not brockåli? The only one named after a person.


  13. bbernardi
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Let me guess at some IDiot “responses”: Those whale fossils are only drawings, imaginative reconstructions. Even if the drawings aren’t outright frauds like I implied, how do we know they weren’t diseased animals? All of those descendants of wild mustard are all STILL PLANTS! You didn’t turn a cabbage into a cat! The fruit flies are all STILL FLIES! If you can’t turn a fruit fly into a cat in the lab, evolution is false. Sorry I couldn’t resist.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Something almost identical to Indohyus is still alive today in Africa, the Water Chevrotain. You can watch videos of it on You Tube…

      • Achrachno
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        But how can whales have descended from Indohyus if there are still Water Chevrotains?

      • darrelle
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        I think it is very interesting how, when threatened, or just spooked, the Water Chevrotain heads directly for water. As far as I have been able to find, their diet is not dependent on water plants or animals. Was/is predator avoidance the primary source of pressure to evolve traits for diving in the Water Chevrotain?

        Is that what started Indohyus and or its relatives along the path back into the water? Seems like predators would have been more of a danger in the oceans for early whale ancestors than on land. The oceanic predators would have tended to be more adapted to the ocean environment than early whale ancestors.

        • DV
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          Assuming they went directly to the oceans. More likely they started in swamps and migrated to open ocean after being fully water adapted.

    • RFW
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      I just asked my little cat Cuddles if it’s possible to turn her into a cabbage. She ignored me and asked for another treat.

  14. Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    You might also mention that in WEIT you do lay out what observations would constitute evidence against evolution.

  15. jbg
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Disputing every nutty website, blog and nut on the internet is an operational definition of madness. Even among professionals. To quote Dr. Otis Brawley:
    “I’m going to predict that people will continue to be unscientific,” Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, told a group of reporters and editors at NPR in Washington Tuesday. And, among other things, that means doctors will “continue to practice faith-based medicine” instead of one rooted in the best evidence, he said.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Well, I’ll let pass your implication that I’m mad. You realize, of course, that I’m not trying to convince the DI people that they’re wrong, but rather arming my own readers with the information about evolution they need to a. buttress their own acceptance of evolution and b. defend themselves (or their kids) from common creationist arguments. And there’s also some ancillary teaching of biology.

      What, exactly, is the point of your comment?

      • jbg
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        Getting in arguments with creationists is at best quixotic so there is that component of madness, without the resulting display of literary genius. When the real agenda is to get rid of faith based beliefs and religion by
        using scientific arguments, since reason is the standard by which all things should be subject, that is in the scientists as Ahab category of madness. The more rational approach is letting the facts and theories speak for themselves and not wasting time with futile arguments and pop polemics. Sure, it pays well if you follow the career earnings of Richard Dawkins, but the scientist as warrior crusaders for reason approach has some major flaws in advancing the goals of education. E.g I see no evolutionary biology/paleontology analog of the MS world wide telescope project. Doing that would not allow time to get into debates with IDers and creationists.

        • darrelle
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

          You are welcome to your opinion, no arguments there. But, going solely by what you have written here you understand, you are being foolish in this matter. You seem to be letting emotion get the better of your reasoning and you have made claims that there is little or no evidence to support. Though there is not enough information to even offer an opinion in your particular case, both of those traits could be considered characteristic of various forms of “madness”.

        • Frank
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

          ON the whole, the facts do NOT speak for themselves – they are muzzled, hidden, and distorted by an army of faith-heads, who consider themselves on a mission from god. The non-controversial fact of evolution has been with us (in science at least) for over a century and has been constantly struggling to see the light of day. I don’t think we can overestimate the real value of the forceful and eloquent and NECESSARY pushbacks from people like Professors Coyne and Dawkins. It is easy to think that all we need to do is to be rational, rather than pro-active, but my experience with scores of creationist students tells me otherwise.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          Don’t you think that one of the reasons so many people believe such nutty creationist arguments is that too many others couldn’t or wouldn’t fight those “quixotic” battles. Whether that was due to lack of interest or lack of internet doesn’t matter. We need scientists like Jerry to keep it up (thank you, Jerry) and retard this onslaught of stupid.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          If this approach worked, then politicians would simply publish their voting records and not bother campaigning.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

          but the scientist as warrior crusaders for reason approach has some major flaws in advancing the goals of education.

          good thing only some of us do both this AND research in our own fields then, huh.

          I mean, if all scientists became involved in trying to change the minds of authoritarians who are effectively trying to DESTROY our funding… why, what would the world come to?

    • Notagod
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      I’m going to predict that Dr. Coyne won’t dispute every nutty website, blog and nut on the internet, and never had any intention to do so.

      Allowing christians to flourish without objection has resulted in the United States occupying the penultimate position among developed nations. Dr. Coyne and others aren’t satisfied with the result of not objecting, apparently you are.

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        No kidding. Uncommon Descent is a major clearinghouse for creationist propaganda, not some fringe site with a dozen readers, yet it rarely gets mentioned here.

  16. George
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink


  17. MAUCH
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I would guess that one the the biggest ways the religionists discount evolution is the fact that they have yet to see a family that gave birth to a new specie. In their imagination they can visulize the horror that some some chimp parents had when they gave birth to a human. If these chimps could only understand what grief this problem-child would bring them.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      The fact that dogs don’t give birth to cats is, in fact, often thrown out by creationists (especially YECs) as disproof of evolution.

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Most of the public gets the term “IDiots”, but insiders who have seen “Forbidden Planet” like the term “Monsters from the ID”.

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    He talks about “what Logicians call a ‘defeater'”. I don’t think Alvin Plantinga invented that term, but he uses it a lot!! Pretty sure that’s the source.

  20. JT
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Gee, I wonder what they think about ring species over at Uncommon Descent?

    • Tulse
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      I’m curious as well as to whether dogs aren’t actually ring species. Surely if Chihuahuas and Great Danes lived in the wild they wouldn’t interbreed.

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Unless I’m way off on my definition of ring species, I don’t think dogs count. Cause, you know, they don’t live in a ring. I know what you mean, though. Maybe there should be another term for that.

        • Tulse
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          Yep, my bad — what I meant was that the two ends of the continuum clearly would not interbreed in the wild.

          • gbjames
            Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            But you _could_ take all of the dogs in the world and arrange them in order in a big ring and _then_ it would be a ring species. No?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

              I get the concept. It would be similar to a ring species, yes. But (as I understand it) the gulls which are the most commonly quoted ring species _could_ physically interbreed at the overlap point but show no inclination to do so. Whereas with dogs, casual observation suggests that regardless of size, they would make a quite determined if ludicrous attempt, and the restraining factor would be physical rather than temperamental. Maybe that’s still a ring species, I don’t know…

  21. B.R.
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Well, idiots can’t be expected to either know something in the first place or research it when their ignorance is pointed out; that’s why they’re religious.

  22. Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Hmmm…let’s consider some other comparable facts that are equally un-devastating to Darwinian evolution:

    * A liverwurst can’t turn itself into a Boeing 747.
    * A bolt from a blaster can’t touch a Jedi with a lightsaber.
    * An IDiot is incapable of identifying what the Theory of Evolution by Random Mutation and Natural Selection does and doesn’t claim.
    * IDiots are marginally less unintelligent than a liverwurst.

    I’m shocked! Shocked! Shocked! How can anybody possibly believe that the ToE is true in light of its inability to explain any of these and countless other facts?


    • PJL
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      If it were big enough, I think you could get a liverwurst off the ground.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      The braunschweiger tried, but the intermediate was a Zeppelin, and it exploded.

    • peter
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Salmon don’t live in trees and eat pencils.

  23. Kevin
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Well, I’m going to criticize you a little bit. Not for your science, but for not understanding the creationist mindset.

    They didn’t mean that you can’t create a species that is morphologically identical to a cat from a dog. They meant you can’t create a modern cat (genetically) from a modern dog in a single generation.

    Indeed, one major creationist objection to evolution is “you never see a cat give birth to a dog.” This one-step instant species appearance is part of the creationist’s creed. This is where the whole “crocoduck” thing came from — they expect monsters to appear whole and entire.

    That’s “evolution” to them. It’s completely bonkers, but that’s what they think evolutionary theory says.

    Let me also say that although I think it’s probably easy to create a morphologically indistinguishable cat-looking creature from a dog, genetically it would probably look nothing like a cat. So, you’re not really creating a cat, you’re creating a catdog.

    Respectfully, as one who occasionally travels to places frequented by citizens of Crazy Town to engage in sport debate.

    • Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Actually, IDiots often take it even one step further and think that ToE means that adult embers of one species willfully transform themselves into adult members of another species.

      The dog would wake up one morning, decide it felt like a change of pace, and see what it was like being a cat that day — and then a lobster the next, and maybe a cabbage the day after, just for good measure.

      Thus the appellation, “IDiot.”

      There is no reasoning to be had with such, only mockery.



      • Kevin
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Oh yes, transmutation is very big with creationists.

        In my local newspaper (yes, there are such things), there is a cartoon for which much of the action is based on this meme. Using “DNA” to turn cats into humans, chickens into dodos (talking dodos at that), and on and on.

        And the protagonist who performs these wonderful feats just earned her PhD in genetics (cartoon version).

        It’s bizarre. I wonder if it’s drawn by someone in the 7th Day Adventist community.

    • philokgb
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Since the lay-creationist mindset is that relatedness is solely a function of what things look like, it’s a mystery to me how canids and felids can be regarded as so morphologically distinct that hypothetical transitional forms between the two groups are virtually inconceivable. I have a hunch that Joe Creationist wouldn’t exceed chance levels if asked whether certain species of fox were canids or felids.

      • Kevin
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Try echidna and hedgehog!

        • microraptor
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

          Ankylosaurs and armadillos.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      They didn’t mean that you can’t create a species that is morphologically identical to a cat from a dog.

      strange then, that I have met with creationists who express the idea in EXACTLY the fashion that a “dog will never give birth to a cat”.

      you have to remember, these people ARE literalistic, by definition.

      you add nuance to an argument that has none.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know about crocoducks, but if we can believe the video shown on this site a day or two ago, we can soon expect a crocoturtle.

      • Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:04 am | Permalink

        Yep, that’ll be a shoe in.


  24. Steve Smith
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    you could conceivably mix the genes of any two breeds

    The Adventures of Fat Freddy’s Cat:

    FFC: Another funny-looking dog!
    GWW: Yes, my father was a Chihuahua, and my mother a Great Dane! That makes me a Great Wawa! But if you think I’m funny-looking … you ought to see my big brother!

    The Adventures of Fat Freddy’s Cat, continued …

    FFC: You say your mother was a Great Dane … and your father was a Chihuahua?
    GWW: That’s right! I know what you’re wondering! … He stood on a chair!

    John Allen Paulos on the IDiots fundamental Bayesian mistake: “people wedded to their priors can always try to rescue them from the evidence by introducing all sorts of dodges. Witness die-hard birthers and truthers, for example.” Or creationists.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      +1 for FFFB reference!

      …and remember:

      “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope!”

      -Freewheelin’ Franklin

  25. andreschuiteman
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty rich to talk about ‘Darwinian magic’ when your own argument hinges entirely upon magic performed by an unseen Magician in the Sky. The person who wrote this reminds me of someone who looks into the barrel of a gun and then pulls the trigger to check if there’s a bullet in it.

    • Mike
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      This is why IDiots spend all of their time “falsifying” evolution. They will never be able to produce evidence for their Invisible Sky Father so that create a false dichotomy where if evolution is shown to be false then ipso facto the Invisible Sky Father is real.

  26. Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I like the Brassica diagram: how turn one barely edible wild plant into the pleasantly edible broccoli and then back into multiple barely edile cultivated plants.

    • Kevin
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Sorry, but I don’t care what anyone says-broccoli is not edible.

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Like many others, my genetic heritage means that I find the taste of Brussels Sprouts very bitter and unpalatable (it’s the sulphur compounds).

        However this Christmas it was possible to buy specially bred ‘red’ Brussels Sprouts which were rather less bitter.

        If we could just breed red and green sprouts to be luminescent we could use them for decorative lights…

  27. Desnes Diev
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    A seriously documented case of a cat having a litter of puppies (or a dog a litter of kittens) would be a strong evidence in favor of a supranatural, God-like activity. After all, what prevents a supranatural Creator od the Universe from creating dogs from cats (or vice-versa) if he wishes?

    But the IDiot’s God is never so unpowerful and/or unwilling to manifest himself than when they are looking for observable evidences of its existence.

    Desnes Diev

    • Kevin
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      If you want to have a laugh, Google “cat gives birth to puppies”.

      3.2 million hits.

      • Posted June 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Actually 13,200 hits Kevin, linking primarily to an alleged Brazilian incident in which a cat purportedly mated with a dog.

        … Mimi, the first cat to give birth to puppies, her owner claims.

        Brazilian Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, says three of the cat’s six offspring, which were born three months after Mimi mated with a neighbour’s dog, have canine traits.

        A geneticist from the Passo Fundo University plans to take blood samples from the animals to verify the claim.

        And if you run the search this way”

        “cat gives birth to puppies” -brazil -Brazilian -Cassia -Aparecida -Souza

        the hits drop to 1,120. Not such a hot topic if guess …

    • Neil
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Or what about a “Cabbit”? The Wikipedia entry claims they exist or are possible, but I am quite certain such hybrids are not possible. Don’t believe everything you read there.

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Looks like the folks at Wikipedia are already taking care of your complaint. Please do express your thoughts about the article in the discussion there.

        • neil
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          Wow, that happened since I posted. Thanks to whoever complained.

    • Mike
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      “But the IDiot’s God is never so unpowerful and/or unwilling to manifest himself than when they are looking for observable evidences of its existence.’

      I guess you haven’t noticed His omnipotence demonstrated by His visage appearing as a burn mark on grilled sandwich bread or as a water stain on a concrete wall. What a display of Godly powers!

  28. Etienne
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    sorry, but Brussels sprouts are delicious.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Roasted …. with bacon.

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Well, that’s not quite fair…*everything* becomes delicious with the addition of bacon.

  29. greg byshenk
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    “The people who determine what is a serious objection to a well-founded scientific theory are other scientists, for that’s who we listen to when judging the merit of our own results.”

    This way of stating the issue seems less than ideal, as it seems to make the issue one of authority. Wouldn’t it be better to say, “The people who get to determine what is a serious objection to a well-founded scientific theory are those who actually understand the theory and therefore what would count as a serious objection to it.” The issue, after all, is not what job title or degree one might have, but what one understands.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      This way of stating the issue seems less than ideal, as it seems to make the issue one of authority.

      nope, you misinterpret authority for experience.

      the objections of those who don’t DO the work you do, and express no clear understanding of it, are never taken seriously, regardless of the field of endeavor.

      has nothing to do with an authoritarian argument.

      it’s pure pragmatism.

      • greg byshenk
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        “the objections of those who don’t DO the work you do, and express no clear understanding of it, are never taken seriously, regardless of the field of endeavor.”
        I’m not sure if you are objecting to my comment or not. I am pointing out that one doesn’t want to claim that only “other scientists” can decide what is a serious objection, for this becomes a sort of “science priesthood” position. One wouldn’t accept the claim that “only other theologians can decide whether an objection to a theological argument is a serious objection”, would one?
        I submit that whether an objection is a “serious” one is determined by whether or not it demonstrates an understanding of what it objects to.

  30. DrBrydon
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I am not sure whether the objection raised in the original article represents a legitimate confusion, or an attempt at obfuscation. I am perfectly willing to believe that it’s the latter.

    What the author seems to miss, intentionally or not, is that just because something can happen via evolution, doesn’t mean that it must happen. On reflection it seems that anti-evolutionists of whatever stripe always ignore the ecological or environmental aspects of natural selection. That’s like talking about baseball with just hitting and no fielding.

    If you trot out the infinite number of monkeys and their typewriters (are they using computers, yet?) for contrast, one of the implications of the gag is that they will produce all the possible outcomes, not just Shakespeare. But evolution isn’t a program that runs on all possible variables and produces all possible outcomes.

  31. shakyisles
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Stupid people can’t be taught to be unstupid. But I admire the patience of those who attempt it.

    • Achrachno
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      But it sounds like we’re not too smart for trying. 😦

  32. KP
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Dishonesty is a requirement for admission to the Discovery Institute.

    • gbjames
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t “DI” stand for “Dishonesty Institute”?

  33. FastLane
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    So they don’t get to choose what evidence (for god…) is objectionable to us, either? I daresay they wouldn’t like this idea turned on them, but then, hypocrisy is one of their sacraments. Admittedly, it might be fun to come up with as many strawman about ID/Creationism as they do about evolution, but really, it’s more fun to watch them shoot their own feet off.

    Then again, the way IDiots use ‘evidence’, that’s pretty much always been the case.

    • Mike
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      I asked God to meet me in the cafeteria for lunch. I even told him that I’d buy. He didn’t show. This is clearly a serious objection to the existence of God.

  34. emmageraln
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on emmageraln.

  35. Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m a computer science/math type so maybe I don’t get it, but where in the theory of evolution does it say anything can evolve into anything?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Depends what you mean by ‘anything’. Given enough time, something can evolve into something almost completely ‘different’ (i.e. ‘deers’ into whales as per Jerry’s example).
      And convergent evolution can produce almost identical animals from totally different origins (though still genetically different, of course).

      I guess, given time and selective breeding, one could turn a cat into an almost exact copy of a (specified breed of) dog. It would still genetically be a cat, though.

      But not, as the creationists would have it, overnight.

  36. ladyatheist
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    I don’t get why brain size is supposed to be indicative of intelligence in pre-human hominids. If a chihuahua & great dane can have equal intelligence, why not Neanderthals & homo sapiens?

    That’s not a “serious objection” just a question. :-p

    The real answer to the question of why a scientist hasn’t turned a cat into a dog is “Why would anyone want to?”

    • philokgb
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:31 am | Permalink

      It’s less the brain as a whole and more certain regions, especially the frontal lobe, whose size can be estimated from braincase measurements.

  37. peter
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    WFT? I/we cant do it so it stands to reason magiman did it? WTF?

    • microraptor
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      That’s the crux of 99% of all creationist arguments “X is true/isn’t true/confuses me/sounds like an atheist conspiracy/requires effort on my part to understand, therefore gawd did it.”

      • peter
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        True dat, don’t know why I’m surprised, same old same old.

  38. Michael McShan
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    His comments are an example of a type of Poe’s law: they are indistinguishable from a satire of a creationist argument. To expect to get a dog from a cat or an amoeba from a bacterium is a sure-fire indicator that you don’t understand evolution (or modern biology for that matter). You could, with the help of generations of dedicated descendants, turn a cat into something else, perhaps doglike, using selection, but the result would be neither a dog or a cat but something new. That point is never apparent to creationists (who still view the biological world as superficial “kinds”).

  39. E.A. Blair
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday:

    Do you think “Intelligent Design”
    Would have created YOU?

  40. Posted June 2, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Umm no one has any idea if whales arose via natural selection.

    YOU are a liar

    • Posted June 2, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      You’d be just ridiculous if you weren’t such a nasty piece of work, Joe.

      “Is it because you are so fucking ugly that you reject ID and Creation?” [from Joe’s blog, addressed to Jerry]

      It seems to me, Joe, that your religion just keeps feeding its poison to your ugly little mind.


    • E.A. Blair
      Posted June 2, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Check my comment #39, then ask yourself that question.

  41. Posted June 4, 2012 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    I think the kind of information summarised here by Jerry is great (I have bookmarked it for future reference). At the same time, though, it is a bit pointless directly arguing with them because their capacity to cherry-pick and twist facts far exceeds their capacity/willingness to accept truth. If, for example, you could demonstrate that dog breeds were different species according to common definitions (say, for example, all the intermediate breed sizes suddenly died out), I suspect that YECs would just u-turn and use it as an example of how rapid diversification can be, therefore The Flood and Noah’s Ark are true. (They can always retreat behind their “kinds”, which conveniently have no actual definition.) They aren’t trying to make a coherent and consistent worldview, they are trying to find snippets of out-of-context reality that they can use to plug holes in their reality dyke.

    Having said that, it really is not madness to occasionally counter their nonsense with a post such as this. There are people out there who have been fed the lies and propaganda in the past but are seeking the truth of the matter, and it is these people who really benefit. For this reason, I think we should remember that there are essentially two classes of YEC or ID – those who spread the lies and those who believe them. Whilst the former are fair game to be targeted for their intellectual dishonesty, the latter deserve a bit of sympathy and sensitivity, especially as they are normally (debliberatly or unwittingly) fed misinformation by people they trust. Unless you have been through the process of coming to recognise that your core beliefs are built on lies and wishful thinking, it is hard to appreciate how desperate you might be to find a way of reconciling them with reality, even if that involves some serious mental gymnastics.

    • microraptor
      Posted June 4, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      It’s not really about convincing them, though.

      It’s about showing everyone else why all their arguments aren’t true so that the fence sitters don’t get suckered by the con game.

  42. Schenck
    Posted June 6, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Would making a dog breed that closely mimic’s a housecat really make a difference to these guys anyway? The difference between cats and dogs is small, they’re both little more than modified weasle-like creatures. IDers’ll still say the difference between Indohyus and modern whales is too great to cross. Heck, Archaeopteryx has been around since nearly the same time as the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. If you can look at Archaeopteryx and still say that there are morpholgical gaps between ‘kinds’ that nature can’t possibly cross, well, then you’re an idiot, and nothing will ever convince you.

    They reject all evidence that exists, and insist that what is needed is evidence that doesn’t exist. If dogcats existed, they’d simply reject it as a commonplace. “It’s still a member of Carnivora!” they’ll shout.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] IDiots once again justify their name […]

  2. […] are still waiting for cat to turn into a dog. Keep waiting, […]

  3. […] True, used the brassica vegetables and dog breeds as examples of the power of artificial selection in a post attacking intelligent design. David Mindell’s The Evolving World contains several more examples of this evolved diversity […]

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