Nick Cohen’s advice to authors includes this gem: “Never read the comments.” And I nearly always follow that dictum, except for the comments on this site. I also made an exception for my review of Tom Wolfe’s book in the Washington Post. I wanted to see how people reacted to my defense of evolution, realizing that 40% of Americans are pure young-earth creationists and another 31% theistic evolutionists.
And the Post comments demonstrated that amply—and heartbreakingly. Evolution is so well established as a scientific “fact,” and there are mountains of evidence supporting it! Yet resistance to it is everywhere. Further, the ideas of modern evolutionary theory are not hard to understand. Despite that, people either don’t understand it, make no effort to, or simply parrot arguments they took from creationists and IDers. So much ignorance, and so little time! The comments about evolution that amused me the most were the constant assertions that we don’t know anything about speciation—even though Allen Orr and I wrote a big technical book on that subject (Speciation; Sinauer 2004) showing that we understand quite a lot about the process.
I’m omitting nice comments about me as well as good comments defending evolution (I noticed some readers here making them), and present the ones showing both an ignorance of evolution and a hatred of Professor Ceiling Cat. I’ll just display the ignorant comments and a few of the nasty ones.
Whoever Ajax Martin is, he’s all over the comments parading his anti-evolutionism (people have responded to him, and you can see the pushback at the site. I’ll leave it to the readers to rebut, at least mentally, this first one.
This one shows a profound ignorance of how we establish that something in the past as provisionally true:
Here we see the same misconception as demonstrated above. Seriously, “nothing historical is factual?” Didn’t JFK get assassinated in 1963? Is that story telling? Didn’t the World Trade Centers topple after being hit by a plane? Fairy tale (well, to some denialists)?
Nobody ever said all of evolution can be completely explained by natural selection, for there are processes like genetic drift, that probably have a profound effect on the evolution of DNA sequences. And no, you can’t ignore evolution in the “causal mechanisms” in genetics, because the behavior and assortment of genes and chromosomes evolved by natural selection. Why are there complex DNA-repair mechanisms? Why do we have the complex process of meiosis involved in sex? Why are paternal and material chromosomes differentially imprinted? These are evolutionary questions, but Callicles can’t be arsed to think.
Ahhh. . . here’s the old ID trope: if we don’t yet have a fully-worked out understanding or scenario of how a complex molecule evolved, evolution couldn’t have done it. It’s the prime fallacy of Intelligent Design, and I think it should have a name. Oh, right—the God of the Gaps fallacy.
The person below needs to read Why Evolution is True. I am baffled how people can disregard the evidence as “theot581 does”, and claim that it’s “mountains of cow dung.” Does he think that all biologists, including religious ones like Francis Collins and Ken Miller are idiots who have been bamboozled into accepting cow dung? And this person, like many others in the thread, tries to draw a phony distinction between “microevolution” and “macroevolution.” There’s no hard and fast line there, and, of course, there’s plenty of evidence for extreme macroevolution, both in the fossil record (Tiktaalik, mammal-like reptiles, the progression of forms from artiodactyls to whales) and in the vestigial features that show common ancestry between, say, humans and fish, or humans and reptiles.
Here are just three NASTY COMMENTS. (There are more; I can haz Patreon now?) I wanted to find the best one, in which an irate reader called me a “child-man who uses the word ‘noms’ on his blog and posts about cowboy boots and cats”, but it eluded me. (If you find it, screenshot it and send it to me.)
These don’t bother me a bit: when people resort to name-calling, they got nothing. It just demonstrates their ignorance and incivility.