I’ve often posted about “Batesian mimicry,” the phenomenon whereby a palatable species (often an insect hunted by birds), evolves to resemble an unpalatable or toxic “model” species that is brightly colored and that predators have learned to avoid. Before we go on, here’s a great picture of a Batesian mimic: a moth that mimics a paper wasp. Can you believe this is a moth? If you saw one in your house, you’d be fooled, too! (Image from The Grackle.)
But its curled mouthparts give it away as a lepidopteran:
By the way, there’s are several evolutionary predictions that can be made from seeing such species: if they evolved (rather than were created), one would predict that either now or in the recent past, you will find a model species of real wasp living in the same area as the mimic (predators need to learn to avoid the real “model” wasp to provide the selective pressure that causes the mimic to evolve resemblance), that there was a predator that occasionally tried to eat wasps, and that you could demonstrate that such aversion could either be learned by that predator or had actually evolved in predator. (There are cases in which aversion to brightly colored “warning patterns” has actually evolved as a hard-wired rather than learned behavior, for individuals with an innate aversion to stinging or poisonous prey would have a reproductive advantage.)
This is just one other case where the evolutionary hypothesis makes testable predictions. And, by the way, these have been tested and substantiated.
This is all a roundabout way of introducing a case of what I’ll call cultural reverse Batesian mimicry, in which we find a distasteful and poisonous phenomenon mimicking a a palatable model phenomenon. The model, in this case, is the estimable NPR show Science Friday, which is very good. (I was honored to be on it once.)
The mimic is a duplicitous website and podcast called Real Science Friday, a creationist operation that apes (forgive the pun) the NPR show, and is run by a shady minister named Bob Enyart who’s been convicted of misdemeanor child abuse and involved, as both target and instigator, in various internet conspiracy theory disputes. The mimicry is so precise that the NPR show has filed suit against Enyart.
As reported by Saturday’s ars technica:
Earlier this month the people behind NPR’s Science Friday radio show took some time to have a Legal Friday. On that day, they filed a suit against a minister/broadcaster named Bob Enyart for calling his Colorado-based radio program “Real Science Friday.”
NPR’s Science Friday is a multimedia machine with radio broadcasts on NPR, podcasts, online content, and more. It’s backed by the Science Friday Initiative, which performs additional outreach intended to help give the public access to the latest in science.
Enyart’s program also has all of the above (the radio program, the podcasts, the YouTube videos). But it lacks the backing of a foundation—and the science part. His “Real Science Friday” website(Tagline: “Don’t Be Fooled by NPR’s parody titled Science Friday ;)”) contains a variety of standard creationist material, much of it attacking evolution, but some of it arguing for a Universe that’s only a few thousand years old as well.
. . . The suit notes that Science Friday has five registered trademarks and claims that the creationist group is diluting them and confusing consumers. Science Friday says that in iTunes, the creationist podcast shows up in searches and in the “Listeners also subscribed to” section. On Google, it lands on top of the second page of results ahead of several legitimate web pages. (As of this writing, both of those facts stand.)
The suit demands a variety of relief for the NPR program, asking that the creationists be made to stop using the logo in electronic form, turn over the Internet domain, and hand over any physical materials (like CDs) that bear the logo.
Just to help you out, here’s a field guide:
The noxious mimic (two views):
If you want to see an example of how “Real Science Friday” (RSF) operates, just go over and read Enyart’s “Darwin was wrong about the tree of life” article to see how many mistakes, deliberate or otherwise, you can find. Here’s one: it was evolutionists and not creationists who exposed the problems of considering the Darwinius masillae fossil as a missing link between two groups of primates (see here, here, and here, for example).
And RSF recycles the old New Scientist “Darwin was wrong” cover, the stupidest thing that the journal ever did. Darwin’s supposed “error” was to suggest there was a branching tree of life, a conclusion that, claimed New Scientist, was destroyed by horizontal gene transfer (the movement of DNA between distantly related species by vectors like viruses or direct ingestion). But such transfer is common only in bacteria, and if you analyze the total DNA of non-bacterial species, not just an occasional odd gene horizontally transferred from, say, fungi to rotifers, you will still find the tree of life branching in a nice Darwinian way.
But creationists are devious liars, and, as we see, will not only distort the evidence, but will parasitize a real science website attempting to draw attention to specious creationist claims.
These people will never give up until religion goes away, at which time, along with all the other benefits of secularism, we will hear no more from liars like Bob Enyart.