Evolution denialism by Pence

Here’s a tw**t by Seth MacFarlane, who’s apparently famous but about whom I know nothing. Yes, I’m a cultural numbskull, but what’s important here is the point: Republican VP candidate Mike Pence is a straight-out evolution denialist. It flummoxes me that someone can be completely oblivious about the evidence for evolution yet be considered qualified for public office.

Here, from Right Wing Watch, is Pence denying evolution on the floor of the House in 2002. I’m stupefied that someone would declare this publicly. Of course, what he’s doing is mischaracterizing the word “theory,” as so many creationists do. This is an ignorant man.

I’m also surprised that no reporter has apparently asked any candidate if they accept the truth of evolution. I think that would be a good question, though of course many Republicans already deny it, so it wouldn’t be a game changer.

68 Comments

  1. jaxkayaker
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Also notable are the ignorant responses, especially of the anti-evolution people, though not exclusively.

  2. aldoleopold
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    MacFarlane is the creator of Family Guy, and he played a pivotal role in the remake of Sagan’s “Cosmos”. From time to time I run across articles or interviews that he’s done – seems to be a voice of reason with a large audience. Also narrowly missed being flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

    • peepuk
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      A tiny Family Guy (FOX) sample:

  3. Merilee
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve never watched Family Guy but know about his role in making the Neil deGrasse Tyson Cosmos. He’s also an incredibly good singer of Ol’ Blue Eyes-type stsndards.

    Pence is a smooth tool.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      And just to be clear….you are speaking of Seth MacFarlene.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Yup ( sorry), Seth can sing a mean ballad ( and Neil cut a rug!).

        • GBJames
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          That’s pretty good!

          • Merilee
            Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, who woulda thunk it? Heard him sing on something like The Daily Show.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              I did not know about that talent. Director, producer, actor and singer.

  4. Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I saw the governor denying heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. And his hair was perfect.

    Wingnuts of Indiana

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      RIP Warren.

  5. Flemur
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    It is a shame that all(well, almost all) politicians claim to believe in ghosts, magic, etc., but that was a dumber than usual rant by Pence, apparently based on some old picture of “linear” evolution, with one line of “progress” from monkeys to humans and no dead-end branches, that he claims to recall. A faulty depiction of evolution somewhere at some time obviously doesn’t prove anything except that there was a faulty depiction.

    However, for a politician, believing in socialism (and here, short clear Friedman speeches) is much worse than believing in god/bible/whatever, especially because the evidence against socialism is so abundant. “Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species” — Wilson

  6. Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “It flummoxes me that someone can be completely oblivious about the evidence for evolution yet be considered qualified for public office.”

    I suspect that a Republican candidate for public office must claim to be oblivious about the evidence for evolution to be electable.

    • nicky
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:28 am | Permalink

      +2

  7. therationalyogini
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    “And then … there’s MEL GIBSON!”

    hahahahaha!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Little known fact: Mel served as the model for the figure on the extreme left-hand side of the “March of Progress” illustration.

      • therationalyogini
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        This is hilarious. And I didn’t know that. Thank you! Now it makes sense why Pence would conjure Gibson.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:30 am | Permalink

        😀

        Hey, maybe if the Repubs realized the march is always depicted as to the right they’d rethink their denialism…

  8. GBJames
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  9. zl84841g
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m a physicist. America is benighted by the republican war on science. It’s 2016. The enlightenment began in the 18th century! We know evolution is a good theory. Yet politicians who deny science are elected over and over again by dimwitted voters. It is truly depressing.

    • rickflick
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      My theory is, and it is mine, that 90% of these denying politicians actually accept evolution but know their constituency, marinated in the vinegar of their local pulpits, do not. It’s like kissing ugly, smelly, babies – part of the job.

      • GBJames
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think your theory adequately accounts for religion in the Republican political sphere.

        • rickflick
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

          It’s very difficult to determine what people really think. You pretty much have to take them at their word. But, if my theory is correct, and it is mine, it fits the data just as well as if all of them where totally dedicated to creationism.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

            I don’t see why religious-right politicians would be particularly more likely to lie about this than other religious-right people. (I don’t think this would be as true for liberal-inclined politicians who are more likely to be closet atheists, I think.) So unless you’re willing to posit that most religious-right leaders are closet atheists your theory, which remains yours, doesn’t satisfy.

            I would think there are far more closet atheists among the clergy than among the right-wing political class. They have had, at least, enough exposure to bible study to recognize the problems. (The Clergy Project now has 770 members!)

            • rickflick
              Posted October 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

              Here’s my thinking…A given denier member of congress is likely to be a fairly intelligent, college educated person. It is likely he or she is aware of the controversy and has studied it enough to know that the denier position is mainly held by illiterates while evolution is supported by every qualified authority. Evolution is just not that hard to understand. But, once they see this, they quickly realize almost all of there constituents rely only on their preacher for “scientific” information. In order to run for office or hold on to an elected position they have to reflect their constituency on this issue. It’s just pragmatic. Imagine a man running for a house seat from a rural district in Alabama standing before a crowd of farmers suggesting they reconsider evolution. It’s never going to happen – even if his mother is an evolutionary biologist.
              Remember that politicians have to make expedient choices in order to get anywhere. It’s the nature of politics.
              And, they may not be atheists to be evolutionists. They may have found a compromise position, that holds logically in their own minds. I think a large swath of middle Americans do just that.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 10, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

                Just a quick look at a few high profile Religious Right politicians off the top of my head.

                Mike Pence: Hanover College, a Presbyterian school

                Ted Cruz: Not a church college but he’s from a very religious bible-banging family (Father is a whack-a-loon preacher) and attended religious high schools.

                Scott Walker: Father is a preacher, went to Catholic college. Didn’t graduate.

                These guys haven’t been educated in science. There’s no reason to think that they know anything more about ToE than what their preachers tell them. I think there is close to zero chance that they have a correct understanding of what a theory is.

                I don’t think they are faking it. They are elected because they are exactly the religious ignoramuses that their constituencies want to vote for. Sure, they have ideas that they think logical in their own minds, but it isn’t a “compromise” to satisfy the voters. They believe it.

                None of these guys have mothers who are evolutionary biologists.

              • rickflick
                Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

                Those examples, who I agree are probably true deniers, makes a convincing argument. But three is not many and not all.

                I’ll meet you half way. I’ll agree to downgrade my theory to an hypothesis, if you’ll allow that at least some denier politicians are lying when claiming to be creationists.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

                I’d be willing to “give a little” if some evidence could be found for a creationist-invoking politician who doesn’t come from a fundamentalist background and has had a decent amount of exposure to science education. Find me one or two of those and I’ll nudge in your direction. 😉

              • GBJames
                Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                Bobby Jindal might be an example to support your hypothesis. Or not. (More research required.)

              • rickflick
                Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

                I did a quick search for good counter examples and found none. The only US reps who are likely to be creationists I could find number 3. I’m sure there are a handful, but I’ll have to leave the debate here lest my dinner get cold.

      • Posted October 10, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it’s an act. America is plagued by a fierce ant-intellectual streak. A streak which shows prominently in conservative politics. If it’s an act, then they’re all very convincing.

  10. Historian
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Mike Pence is an extreme right-winger in both politics and religion. He is of the Ted Cruz variety. The media is now fawning over him because he is not crude like Trump. If he were ever to become president, he would be a most dangerous threat to progressivism, gay rights and secular values. Don’t be fooled by his apparent civility.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Perzackly. Pence is a fundamentalist, so his creationism is not even a little surprising, and a theocrat, so he might be even scarier than The Orange Groper™.

    • Mark R.
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I think he’s actually a dominionist (like Cruz). He thinks these are the ‘end times’ and jebus will soon reveal itself and save all the idiots. Yes, he would be worse than Trump imo. But even if Trump doesn’t step down and actually wins, he’ll let Pence run the country anyway. Trump will be a chairman of sorts and he’ll make Pence the CEO.

    • Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Yes, and if his opinions didn’t alert you to the fact that hes dangerous, the fact that he looks like the assassin played by Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love should

  11. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Way to go Mike Spence. You have trumped Trump.

    And yes Mike, if you go far enough back in history you will find other idiots like yourself who think like you. In the mean time we get to watch fools like you on the internet, just as g*d intended.

  12. Zado
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Nothing surprising here. Less than a third of high school biology teachers present the evidence for evolution in class. The rest either don’t mention it, present it as “just a theory,” or explicitly endorse creationism. And Indiana high schools are likely more blinkered than most.

  13. Bruce J. Cochrane
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    He actually got one thing right – Homo sapiens didn’t evolve in a linear progression from monkeys. Of course no evolutionary biologist ever said it did. Beyond that, the ignorance displayed in this clip is stunning – if I didn’t recognize Mr. Pence, I might come to the conclusion that it’s a parody.

  14. Bric
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I am particularly interested in the evolutionary factors behind Pence’s curiously smooth face. I have really never seen a straight man with such smoothness of visage

  15. Smith Powell
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    The following doesn’t help. Shawn Otto, in “The War on Science”, says on page 67 [speaking of the inductive method of doing science as proposed by Francis Bacon], “This method clearly has limitations: its conclusions are provisional and always subject to disproof. All it takes is the discovery of a single non white swan to invalidate the statement. This is why one hears scientists talking about the ‘theory’ of evolution.”

  16. Flemur
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Bill’s wife believes in “intelligent design”:

    “I believe in evolution, and I am shocked at some of the things that people in public life have been saying,” Mrs. Clinton said in the interview. “I believe that our founders had faith in reason and they also had faith in God, and one of our gifts from God is the ability to reason.
    “I am grateful that I have the ability to look at dinosaur bones and draw my own conclusions,” she added, saying, too, that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is evidence that “evolution is going on as we speak.”

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure. The quote can be interpreted as belief in theistic evolution, or even allegory.

    • Andy
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      I think that the way you use “Bill’s wife” instead of “Hillary” in this context says a lot about you.

      Anyway, the whole point of the article you link to was about Hillary defending science from people who want to insert religion, and the quote you used sounds a lot like just a figure of speech. Hillary does have a strong religious faith and has talked about it often; by all means criticize that, but you’ll look less foolish if you try to do it honestly.

      • Diane G.
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 2:37 am | Permalink

        “I think that the way you use “Bill’s wife” instead of “Hillary” in this context says a lot about you.”

        Beat me to it!

  17. Tom
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    As Mr Pence will believe what his voting supporters want him to believe, why would he have slightest interest in the views of those that don’t support him?
    As for his stand on evolution, it got him a headline or two back home and a nice little video added to his Republican credentials which he can roll out if any party rival emerges to challenge him.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Are you saying the Pence doesn’t really believe in Creationism? If so, I think you are mistaken.

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    This is a standard trope of right-wing “political correctness” — creating a “safe space” for conservative Christian students in which they can maintain their benighted beliefs free from refutation.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      While feeling self-satisfied that the cosmos was engineered for their jurisdiction.

      • nicky
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        I like that: ‘jurisdiction ‘, hehehe.

  19. Eduardo
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I want to punch the computer screen.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I would just humbly ask, as you contemplate punching the screen, that no even remotely rational explanation in the known universe will help explain a broken computer.

      • Eduardo
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        No even remotely rational explanation in the known universe will help explain a Pence’s exposition either.

  20. Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    What is astounding to me is that this group, Right Wing Watch, is putting this video out there for everyone to see this man as he fails so magnificently. One would think they would want to scrub this sort of thing of the face of the planet.

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Why? Right Wing Watch keeps a watch on the right wing, they’re not part of the right wing.

  21. Billy Bl.
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    So new evidence in support of a theory produces a new theory. I think he may be missing something.

  22. Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  23. keith cook +/-
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    It’s just amazing to see evolution working, depriving someone of their marbles right there on the pc screen.

  24. Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “Beliefs” from XKCD:

  25. Newish Gnu
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Re: No journalist ever asking about evolution.

    Jerry, I think you may be incorrect on this one. IIRC, fall of 2007, when the GOP still had lots of candidates and debates were these cattle call events, I think there was a yes/no question about accepting scientific evidence for evolution. And as I recall, maybe about half said yes (qualifying with theistic or ID language) while the others stuck to their creationist pop guns.

    • Newish Gnu
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Hot damn I was right! Mostly.

      May 2007. McCain was asked if he believed in evolution. “Yes.”

      Moderator: Is there anyone here who doesn’t believe in evolution?

      Three hands went up. About 10 did not.

      • Newish Gnu
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        Didn’t mean to embed! I begs forgiveness for breaking a Roolz.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        “Moderator: Is there anyone here who doesn’t believe in evolution?
        Three hands went up. About 10 did not.”

        – at least five of whom were still trying to comprehend the question…

        cr
        (OK, I’m being uncharitable. About GOP candidates. If that’s possible)

  26. nicky
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Although Pence was peddling patent nonsense, I must say I was quite impressed by the way he did it.
    (And his hair is way better than that of his boss!😆)

  27. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    The appeal to the founding fathers is especially rich.

    Washington, etc. did not in any sense believe in a ‘theory’ of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. The issue hadn’t come up it, and I’m sure Pence understands that.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 10, 2016 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      You give Pence too much credit. I rather doubt he understands much about history.

      In any case the ToE by natural selection hadn’t come up but there were people proposing other sorts of evolution during Washington’s day. One was Erasmus Darwin, Charles’ grandfather; Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s life overlapped with Washington’s for 30 years. And the Comte de Buffon was speculating about the species changing over time prior the American Revolution. The subject was quietly in the air.

  28. Mike
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    On Evolution I would describe Pence as an articulate idiot.


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