Ann Coulter: deranged creationist liar?

By Phil Plait | June 19, 2006 1:41 pm

Too provocative a title?

Probably not.

In her latest screed, Coulter decided to take on science, and twist it to match whatever fantasies rot inside her head. She evidently (I have not read her book) has quite a bit to say about evolution, and — shocker — it’s all from a creationist standpoint.

I have no plans on reading her book, since I have enough fetid garbage to rake through on a daily basis. But yay, others have, including the intrepid PZ Myers at Pharyngula. who has posted an excellent list of sources for why, indeed, evolution works. It’s a compelling compendium that puts lie to Coulter’s statement that there is no evidence for evolution.

It’s clear that demagogues like Coulter simply write whatever offal simmers in their heads, without the actual benefit of research. No wonder they can crank (pun intended) books out so quickly! Without having to do such trivial things as checking facts, they can blast out a vomitous flow of dreck as fast as the publishing business can print it.

Of course, some might say that I am not being fair, since I haven’t read her book. However, I will make two points here. One is that I have read some excerpts online (including the canonical creationist falsehood that evolution has no evidence), and it’s clear that her take on science is as bad as any goofball antiscience crackpot I have dealt with in the past.

Which brings me to my second point, for which I will make an analogy. Imagine you are at a party, conversing with someone. They seem nice, personable, and then suddenly start to poke you viciously in your left eye with a weenie toothpick. You scream, tell them to stop. They apologize, and then you (perhaps somewhat more warily) converse again. Then, once again without warning, they take that toothpick and begin to stab you in the right eye with it.

Tell me, honestly– would you simply pick up and try to engage this person in an intelligent repartee, or would you start to scream that she is a raving lunatic and should be locked away?

At what point are you allowed to base an opinion on previous encounters with people, and dismiss their actions when it is clear it’s a repeat of previous insanity? At this point in Ann Coulter’s career– actually, long ago would have been better– it’s as clear as it needs to get.

Comments (64)

  1. BB

    I was at the bookstore yesterday, and noticed large quantities of her book there in the political science section. I had a very strong urge to rip the cover off of each and every one – and not just because the cover made me want to vomit, but because then the books would be unsellable. But then, that would have been unfair to the bookstore.

  2. The BA asks, “At what point are you allowed to base an opinion on previous encounters with people, and dismiss their actions when it is clear it’s a repeat of previous insanity?” I think a rigorous answer to that would require Bayesian inference, no?

    Off-topic: what’s up with the “Glorp” link over there in the sidebar?

  3. WoodGuard

    In summary.

    1) You did not read the book. But it is wrong.
    2) You done plan on reading the book, because it wrong?

    The Skeptics Guide to the Universe Presents our Top 20 Logical Fallacies
    Number one is:

    Ad hominem -An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter anothers claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself. True believers will often commit this fallacy by countering the arguments of skeptics by stating that skeptics are closed minded. Skeptics, on the other hand, may fall into the trap of dismissing the claims of UFO believers, for example, by stating that people who believe in UFO’s are crazy or stupid.

    Bad Skeptics, Bad!

  4. I’m not surprised you feel this way. Even most of us creationists think this woman is a nutter. There is a place for belief and a place for science. I find they co-exist quite nicely in most peoples lives. Where they clash there are no definates anyway…only theory vs. theology.

  5. L Fuller

    Actually, Phil has repeatedly refuted and/or referred his readers to sites that refute the claims of UFO believers, creationists, etc. So, your “claim” that skeptics dismiss claims by stating that “people who believe in UFOs are crazy or stupid” just shows that you have fallen into the trap of not doing your research on the purpose and content of these forums.

    Bad WoodGuard, Bad!

  6. Wombat

    Gosh, doc, tell us how you really feel!

    Seriously, if NASA ever shows you the door, I think you have a real future as a writer for political attack adds. “blast out a vomitous flow of dreck” and that weenie toothpick analogy, “Senator Hotdog has been stabbing the voters of this state in the eye with a weenie toothpick long enough!!!”

  7. This crap makes me angry, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. Going against this stuff online always seems to fail. Ugh, what to do, what to do?

  8. TheBlackCat

    Phil doesn’t work for NASA, Wombat. He works for Sonoma State University.

  9. Tom Epps

    Okay, kids, let’s take a moment to relax. I sense flaming ahead and have an allergy to that kind of behavior online. Phil certainly has the right to say what he wants–it IS his blog–and others have the right to disagree. That’s a wonderful thing. Let’s DEBATE, not argue!

    Tom Epps

  10. Considering that the sample I’ve seen of Ann’s quotes are just cookie-cutter Creationist claims with extra venom added, I think I can safely infer from that sample that she’s just another cookie-cutter Cretinist, albeit with extra venom.

    If someone would like to show that my sample isn’t representative of the whole, please go ahead.

  11. PK

    There is no point in debating Coulter: She’s out to sell as many books as possible and if the facts get in the way of a good story, then it is too bad for the facts.

    We should fighting the general arguments, but not trolls like Coulter.

  12. Ann Coulter provides a valuable service to the hard right. She makes her political allies appear to be more centrist and reasonable.

    You know, I never heard of her until the late 1990s, AFTER Coulter Optical sold out. Coincidence? YOU BE THE JUDGE …

  13. Believe it or not, I’d never heard of Ann Coulter before last week. Unfortunately, the excerpts of her book that I’ve read caused me some brain damage and lowered my IQ by at least 100 points, maybe more. I’ve got this sudden urge to buy lottery tickets, drink wine from a box, and go live in a trailer park. I hope the damage is only temporary, because it’s going to be really hard to find Opus One and Nickel & Nickel wine in a box.

  14. Melusine

    I’ve been reading PZ’s blog and the Coulter entries, but I have to agree with those who have been saying that the best thing to do is ignore her. Also, most of those who buy her books are not dumb people in the sense that many are in their 20s and 30s and are fairly successful, educated people. They despise liberals (especially welfare-supporting liberals because it’s mostly about economics), and they just enjoy Coulter’s sneering at who they think are the worst of the bunch, and stereotpying is so easy. They realize many of her comments are over-the-top, but it doesn’t matter, because some of them ring true to their simple black & white way of thinking. There have been Coulter-debunking sites for years. We’ve put her past plagiarisms in front of them; her inane statements, and just outright incorrect “facts.” They don’t care. They don’t care about the evolution debate enough to even read that much about it. I tried sending someone to Talk Origins, they came back and said, “I’m not going to read a lefty site.” Sent them to the Smithsonian, gave them religious professors’ anti-ID links; it’s really much easier for them to spout the latest Limbaugh or Coulter view. It’s intellectual laziness.

    So, I wouldn’t waste time debunking her evolution stuff, as others have noted. It just makes her appear to be more important that she is. Most Americans don’t know her, but they will if she keeps showing up on Leno or mainstream TV. Most Americans don’t read the political blogs. And her conservative fans just love seeing liberals lower themselves to the nasty, sexual comments about her (I was pretty appalled at those, too), and seeing liberals get all worked up. If every book she’s written so far, and many of the articles on her site, too, have been shown to be the writing of a hack, why would anyone read her book? What should be discussed is why people enjoy her brand of sneering sarcasm so much and how this affects political discourse in general. She simply mirrors their gut feelings…comments I hear all the time.

    But you know, today I got accused of turning my nose down to people on our forum, and that I think I’m smarter than them because I think it’s ridiculous that they’re defending her after three years of this stuff. You can’t win with these people-you can’t change their minds. They even defended her voting issue in Florida. Also, NewsMax and such places buy her books in bulk thus inflating sales. And just in case Coulter didn’t cover every type of liberal yet, she said in response to being a counterpart to Michael Moore that she thinks of herself more along the lines of H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain. Just another whacko comment to send literary liberals into a tizzy. Whatever…it’s getting boring. ~rolling eyes~

  15. Woodguard: As I said specifically in my post, I have read excerpts from her book. I have also heard her on TV, and have seen what kind of thing she usually says, and how she is never within a glancing blow of reality. The whole point of the second half of my entry was that she repeatedly goes for extremist nonsense, long-debunked. How long must she do this before we can dismiss her crap?

    Wombat: as someone pointed out, I am not a NASA employee, I work at a University. As a scientist and skeptic, I am hopelessly mired in the truth and reality, so I would be useless running political attack ads. :-)

  16. Zart

    Don’t even try and debate her word salads. She does not speak the language of reason, and she speaks to an audience that does not either.

    Snowballs chance in hell.

    I don’t remember who came up with this theory, but it says there is a set of developmental stages that are paralell for individual humans and socities.
    It goes something like:

    Magical thinking – Young children, primitive cultures.

    Traditional – Children place great importance on what authorities say. In cultures.. well you figure it out.

    Rational – Discovery of the rational mind.

    Post rational – I think Zen is supposed to be the one example of this.

    People get stuck at some level or the other. I bet you can think of a few examples of both magical and traditionalist thinking.
    Point is, if a person hasn’t started using their rational mind, trying to argue on that level is futile.

  17. RobW

    Ann Coulter (A.C.) is an idiot when it comes to science as well as theology. As someone who studies both, I can assure most people that she is *Wrong*, with a capital W.

    Theologians have been debating Biblical passages for *THOUSANDS* of years. I’m willing to bet good money that A.C. hasn’t even *touched* the tip of the iceberg that is theology.

    How much Greek can she read? How much Hebrew can she read? How much Aramaic can she understand? What about Latin, can she understand that language? Can she recite the Decalogue? Does she know any of the Noahic Laws? Which books made it into the Canon, and which did not, and why?

    I haven’t even left the Judeo-Christian category. What is her understanding of Arabic? Or Sanskrit? Does she know the five vows of Jainism? What about the teachings of Confucius?

    WRT creationism, In short: The book of Genesis is *Not* a biology textbook, that is not what the writer intended the book to be. The words “…It was good…” appears through the first few chapters, concerning the creation. This means that everything in the universe down to the smallest atom is created by God, and is worthy of respect and should be treated as if it is sacred, because God created it.

    Sadly, most mainstream Christians in my country (USA) don’t follow this interpretation of Genesis. They create a conflict between science and religion when there shouldn’t be any. Both come from, and are trying to understand the same source in my opinion.

  18. Come on, we’re scientists, right? How about we break out the mathematics. Just for kicks, I’m gonna model Coulter as a Bernoulli process!

    Assume, as a first approximation, that each statement she makes has probability p of being worth reading. (This could be because it is factually correct, poetically beautiful, intellectually thought-provoking, etc.) Furthermore, assume that this probability does not change significantly over time, and that one statement does not affect the others. Then out of every N statements, on average Np of them will not have been a waste of time — though in any actual sample of N statements, the number will likely be somewhat different, just as not every set of 100 coin flips will give you exactly 50 heads.

    Given a sample of statements which we judge to be worthwhile or worthless, what can we say about p, the “behind the scenes” probability that the source will produce a worthwhile statement?

    Say that we actually do the experiment: we take N statements from Coulter’s books, TV appearances and so forth, and we find that some fraction q of them were not blatant assaults upon human dignity. That is, Nq statements did not reek of idiocy and hate. Knowing N and q, we would like to deduce p to within some reasonable margin of error.

    Standard scientific practice requires that we set a “confidence level“, which measures how far our results are from certainty. A confidence level of 95% means that our results will only be wrong 1 time in 20, all else being fair. You can look up the rest in Chapter 7 of Gonick and Smith’s Cartoon Guide to Statistics; the punchline is that the width of our “error bar” is (for 95% confidence) 1.96 times the square root of the fraction q(1-q)/N. The probability we want to know, p, will be q “plus or minus” that amount. Our confidence in our answer grows as the square root of the number of measurements we take: for a sample twice as large, our uncertainty becomes about 1.4 times smaller.

    For example, if 800 out of 1000 statements are total bollocks, then p = 0.2 +/- 0.02.

    Now all you have to do is decide how small p has to be before you stop listening and go do something more fun.

  19. Melusine

    You can always count on physics ______s to come up with a different way of coming to a similar conclusion as us innumerate folks. (Somehow reminded me of an old link where these guys used Britney Spears to explain semiconductor physics, but that’s something different–just a loose association.

    Really, if Book 2002 was full of tripe, as was Books 2003(2), and Book 2004, and I did read many of her essays on her site two years ago and was assaulted with them as well, and her blatant plagiarism of a NY Times article, and her noxious interviews, then using that dreaded word *intuition* (which has its etymological roots in observation and contemplation)I can betcha the next book will be full of tripe. And voila! I see excerpts, and it is. Same conversation, different book title, no math needed, it’s just more potted meat. (But that was amusing, Blake.)

  20. We aim to please. (-:

  21. Peter Barrett

    WoodGuard said: “In summary.

    “1) You did not read the book. But it is wrong.
    “2) You done plan on reading the book, because it wrong?”

    Imagine this situation.

    Person A makes a general statement. This statement is then shown to be wrong.

    Person B makes the same general statement, with maybe some difference in the detail.

    Do you need to recapitulate the entire explanation of why the statement is wrong? Or is it sufficient to say, “This is no different to Person A’s statement, which I’ve already shown to be wrong.”

    In this case, Coulter is making statements about a subject which is known to be incorrect, and has been demonstrated to be so many times. Does every statement Coulter makes on creationism need to be debunked individually? Or is it sufficient to say, “Creationism has been shown to be wrong. Coulter is making statements in support of creationism. Therefore she is wrong.”

  22. Alexander Whiteside

    If the book gets a UK edition (unlikely: she seems to forget that the UK exists, convinced as she is that evolution only succeeded because of US liberals) I’ll spend merry evenings quietly shifting it into the Fiction section of each book store I find it in.

  23. AitchJay

    “When this guy (Bad Astronomer) gets wound up, he writes it well..

    I have read things on the mudline at Doonesbury about Ann, but I like Phil’s rant better.
    She is a creationist who has attacked everyone from the widows of 9/11 to ‘Darwinists’, so IMHO, she’s got it coming.”

    Posted to BadScience Forum.

    http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2130#2130

  24. David Willard

    Yes, yes, yes…Ann is “wrong” about here creationist views. But in the garbage heap of politics, she doesn’t stink as much as the smelly goo of the far left!

  25. Elwood

    I’m not entirely convinced that Coulter isn’t a performance artist, making a living on parody of an audience at its own expense. I look forward to the day when it is finally revealed that Coulter is a male, gay, liberal atheist. At least I hope so. The alternative is unthinkable!

  26. Gary Ansorge

    Elwood, good point! I had begun to think she was a satirist in the mold of the Coulber Report, et al. At least I hoped that was the case.

    Zart: The post rational philosophy of Bhudism is most explicitly argued by Tibetan Bhudism, an experiment in the discipline of mentation that has been developing for the last 2000 years. Thanks to the raveges of the Chinese states desire to ensure access to Tibets glacial waters, the teachers of this philosophy have been scattered around the world, given the opportunity to expound upon their insights to billions who would otherwise have never heard of them. A painful dispersal of people but a necessary one. I have hope that soon knowledge of that philosophy will become nearly universal. It could go a long way toward eliminating unsane thinking,,,

    GAry 7

  27. Ann Coulter gets the most basic facts wrong while wrapping the mess up in abusive language. See the Pandas Thumb post by yours truely about one little section, which is representative of the larger whole. The amazing thing is that ID mavin Bill Dembski has publicly claimed that any errors in Coulter’s evolution section are his responsibility. Man, that has got to hurt ID’s credibility big time.

  28. If creationism is false where did the Adam’s apple come from?

  29. If creationism is false where did the Adam’s apple come from?

    When he was a teacher, one of the students left it on his desk the last day of school.

  30. Peptron

    Doug Keenan: If creationism is false where did the Adam’s apple come from?

    From the same place as Achiles tendon.

  31. There’s an old joke that goes:

    This guy: Why does everyone take an instant dislike to me?
    This other guy: To save time.

    Likewise, while Coulter’s previous books are devoid of reliable information or meaningful insight, nothing logically prevents her from including worthwhile material in a new book. What prevents me from scouring her book for such material is not logic but the feeling that life is just too damn short.

  32. I didn’t like the provocative language in this post. It went against the scientific, “let the facts speak for themselves,” tone.

  33. Lucid

    Yaaaawn….

    By her own admission, “I like to stir up the pot.”

    She just wants attention. She’s nothing more than an ultra-conservative racist shock jock. And while I’m name calling add “flag waving jingoist” to the list.

    She’s probably trolling your blog, printing out each new comment for her “It’s All About Me Shrine.”

    How much you want to bet she has google alerts set up with her name?

    Now that I think about it, I wonder if BA has google alerts set up with his name! :D

  34. dre

    wait, is the adam’s apple comment a reference to the fact that ann coulter is really a man?

  35. Robert Carnegie

    Wikipedia article on Adam’s apple takes special note of Ann Coulter’s. It is the thyroid cartilage around the larynx, and surely even Genesis-ists have trouble imagining how it got transferred from Adam’s throat to ours. The rib thing is already embarrassing. People believed for ages that men have one rib fewer, and we don’t. I have seen a newer Creationist article explaining that actually, rib tissue grows back, but the damage is done. Other problems for creationists with Adam’s apple are that we speak through it and you may have noticed that the bible humans are talking before they eat the fruit, which may not be an apple, and anyway other mammals have it as well.

    So, Ann Coulter… I haven’t studied her work closely, but on this account I don’t think she should be ignored. I think she should be written up and filed away with the other koo-koos, so if someone asks you can say “Oh, yeah, she’s the one who”. The real threat is the ones who sound plausible.

  36. Robert Carnegie

    …by the way, which word in the title does the question mark go with?

  37. PK

    I just saw the interview (a better link is this one), and it’s the first time I saw her speak. Although Paxman could have torn her from limb to limb (as he does with local politicians; the US could do with somebody like him — but I digress…), he was (after the sharp introduction) quite docile; much less aggressive than usual. I also had the impression that she is quite smart, and that she has all her answers ready for the standard “liberal” attacks. To really catch her out would have to involve going into scientific detail. It was clear that the weakness in her armour was there. She didn’t even mention ID when asked for alternatives to the six-day creationist view.

  38. LucidBlue

    I wonder if she was the one who told Kirk Cameron about the “atheists nightmare”…aka the banana.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4472004596147265716

    It’s the Laughalympics all over again.

  39. jrkeller

    BA,

    While I know it would pain you to read AC’s writings on evolution, I think you should, because I feel you’d probably learn a lot more about her true motives. I’m sure you can read it for free somewhere.

    From my own experience following the moon hoax, I have a nice collection of psuedo-science junk. The small excerpts are nothing compared the full story. I’ve trudged through hours of Bart’s shows, hundred of pages of Charles Hakwins, “How America Faked The Moon Landings ” and Percy and Bennette’s “Dark Moon.” For Bart Sibrel I believe his true motive is that he believes that God rules the heavens and man rules the Earth and therefore we can’t go to the Moon. I would have never gotton that idea from small excerpts, but carefully watching his stuff, you see that it is loaded with religious ideas. Its also a hit with some wacked out pastors.

    Anyway just a suggestion.

  40. jrkeller

    Melusine,

    I like your observations on Ann Coulter and Micheal Moore.

  41. PATRICK REEVES

    Y0U TURNED THE OTHER EYE (CHEEK) IN YOUR STORY. I WOULD HAVE DECKED HER. ALSO HAVEN’T READ ANN, DON’T INTEND TO. WATCH OUT! DON’T STEP IN IT!

  42. Zoot

    Speaking of statisics, check this out:
    http://www.halfsigma.com/2006/06/religious_peopl.html

    There is an inverse corelation between intelligence and religiosity.

  43. Irishman

    Okay, you have to check this out:
    The Hitler vs. Coulter Quiz
    http://www.people.virginia.edu/~jac3he/GiveUpQuiz/hitlercoulterquiz.html

    I only got 8 correct. :-(

  44. Actually, I found the Hitler thing a little while ago. I got all but one right. It was easy, and this is true: Hitler was a better writer.

  45. Winssum Loosum

    Ann Coulter is just one of the many maintainers of the status quo, whose soul purpose is to propagate the myth that there is a “left vs. right” battle still going on. It’s nothing more than a show to draw the attention of the minority of people who follow the so called “right”, and get them fired up and raising heck in the public eye about non-issues like gay marriage, and intelligent design vs. evolution. And to also divert the attention of well meaning individuals away from the important real issues, as they futilely try to deal with those irrational people on a rational level.

    Ann Coulter is also one of the lowest of the low, and it is entirely fair to instantly dismiss anything she has to say. Mr. Plait is absolutely right in wondering how many chances you should have to give someone who is so consistantly proven to be wrong, misleading, and an outright a liar before you can just assume that anything they say will be as such, and just ignore them. Coulter passed that point with me long long ago. I wonder how many chances
    Coulter’s average readers have given Al Franken, even though the one inaccuracy ever shown in his writings was only due to a statistic changing during the time between when the manuscript was written, and the book was actually published. I’m guessing the number of chances they have given him are somewhere directly between -1 and 1.

  46. Jon

    You have not read t he book, but you know where she is coming from? (“A creationist standpoint” according to you.)
    How silly. How…predictable. Say, you aren’t a leftist are you?
    I await you arguing SCIENCE with her; which is in her book. Not all scientists believe in Darwinian Evolution (although you won’t ever know what; you probabaly think that simple acceptance of Darwinism makes you “sientific”).

  47. Jon

    BB says:

    June 19, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    I was at the bookstore yesterday, and noticed large quantities of her book there in the political science section. I had a very strong urge to rip the cover off of each and every one – and not just because the cover made me want to vomit, but because then the books would be unsellable. But then, that would have been unfair to the bookstore.
    ——————————————————

    Pray, did you a TOLERANT liberal also want to BURN her books? You guys are hilarious!

  48. The stench of political extremes is a matter of subjective opinion. Far as I’m concerned the misleadingly named “right” wingf’s smells by far the fouler. (& I can back this up with numerous examples of which AC & Hitler are the most immediately relevant.)

    Is Coulter’s tripe in the libraries – or are such public instititions not welcomed in the goood ole US of A? If so, you can read as much of her book as you can stomach for free there … Pity the uneducated who fall for its putrescent claims though.

    Vandalising the books would rule out the chance of using them in future as sad examples of the very worst sewer in writing and argument.

    I favour moving them alongside Hitler’s ‘MeinKampf’ for comparison; shifting them into the very top shelves that are hardest to reach and contain the most expensive tomes, placing copies of Darwin’s and other decent scientist’s work in front of them to hide them and compare unfavourably with them, placing them by accidents in the worst qulaity “get rid of” bargain boxes.

    Or perhaps adding a disclaimer to every copy referring intelligent readers (of which I suspect they’ll be few – most who read such rot have already made up their minds with every one of their 50 or less IQ points) to this and other rational & enlightening websites.

    As for censorship and burning books – well thereare some books that don’t deserve publication – racist propaganda and toxic sludge like this and HOlocaust denial tracts all belong inthatcategory – they have the right to free speech sure , but it need not be pushed, promoted and poured forth as such a stream of vile bilgewater. Why?

    Here’s three reasons for this :

    I) It wastes time, energy & trees with the additional
    cost of displacing more worthwhile material.

    II) It misleads, confuses and generally misinforms its victims (ie consumers or those who adopt it as containing something resembling truth.)

    III) It encourages its authors and adds to their
    sense of being important, respected people giving them greater ego, influence and political power at the expense of more rational, constructive, trustworthy people.

    Would I burn her book? No.

    Would I warn people off reading it or taking it
    seriously? Absolutely yes!

    Do I regard AC, her works & her ilk with utter loathing and will I call a spade ‘a spade’ & a load of
    bilious, excremental, lies and humbug ‘a load
    of nauseating, manure-filled, deciets and baloney?’

    You betcha! ;)

    Go get her Phil & don’t pull your punches -just
    make sure you disinfect your gloves thoroughly afterwards! ;)

  49. patrick

    I take strong offense to the claims that anyone who supports or agrees with some of the views and ideas expressed by Ann Coulter is “uneducated” or any other of the sundry terms used to describe said supporters.
    I agree with many of the ideas and views that she expresses or brings up, mostly those exposing the blatant bias and anti-judeochristian sentement of certain media outlets and persons. However I am by no means uneducated, I speak four languages, have lived on three different continents and will soon be graduating from college with a degree in International Studies, to call someone like me “uneducated” only speaks of the uneducation of those who lable anyone who happens to support someone that they disagree with harsh terms.
    All this being said, I do not agree with Ann’s views on evolution and creationism despite the fact that I am a devout Roman Catholic I also have a love for science, even teaching astronomy to campers at my local Boy Scout camp for three years. I may be on of those naive persons who belive that science and religion should actually complment and support each other more than they disprove one another. I hope I’m not the only one out there.

  50. PK

    Patrick, all that education and worldly knowledge. Wow! Do you spell equally badly in your other three languages? ;-)

  51. patrick

    I’d like to think not, and thanks for picking up in the most important part of my post. I am amazed that you managed to highligh my spelling, or rather my mistakes in it as the crux of my statment. With such brilliant minds like yours as loyal readers I’m sure Phil must get all warm and fuzzy inside.

  52. Winssum Loosum

    One thing I am rather tired of is those who follow a certain faith expecting everyone to give their beliefs fair play and take them seriously, even if they themselves don’t follow the same religious path (or any path at all that is). Religious respect only has to go as far as allowing anyone to believe what they want. It ends there, yet we are for some reason expected to act as if christian ideas like “creationism” are valid theories alongside scientific ones like evolution. And at the same time Christian people feel no need to hold themselves back from decrying evolution as false, and “just a theory” (proving that they have no idea what a scientific theory is).

    My understanding of the nature of he universe lies in the areas of science, and I am constantly hearing about how those ideas are wrong, and unproven. Yet if I said the same thing to those people I would somehow be deeply disrespecting them and their “core” beliefs. I’d like to know why this instant respect for others beliefs that I am expected to have towards Christians isn’t a two way street? I’m supposed to treat silly childish things like creationism and the laughable idea that the universe is only 6000 years old as valid points of view, just different than mine. Then why can’t the people that hold those points of view feel that ideas like evolution and the big bang are valid points of view different from their own?

  53. Colin Killian

    Coulter’s point is that the “cultists” refuse to consider any alternative viewpoints on evolution (or global warming for that matter). Those who disagree are portrayed as idiots or morons for daring to question the enlightened among us. Her detrators make her point for her when they digress into such tactics. I seldom hear a spirited defense of evolution from its supporters, only the denigration of its doubters. Plenty of notable scientists, not just right-wing preachers, have well-founded doubts regarding evolution. Until these doubts are adequately answered (which they can never be), the debate will continue. Darwinists need to respond to the debate, not stamp their collective feet like little children who don’t get their way.

  54. richCares

    Coulter’s point is that the “cultists” refuse to consider any alternative viewpoints on evolution

    What viewpoints, name one ?

    Plenty of notable scientists, not just right-wing preachers, have well-founded doubts regarding evolution

    Name one ?

    Coulter’s Science chapters are not even up to a 10 years olds science level. A high school student following her vast knowledge would flunk science.

    sorry, your arguments don’t fly

  55. Paige

    I created a forum for political discussion, if it interests you, please join. Either way, pass it along to friends or other forums, that way we can have many members to talk and learn from. http://www.createforum.com/phpbb/allpoliticaldis.html

    Thanks!

    ~Paige

  56. Carla

    Zart: To my mind you’ve opened up an interesting side of the debate:

    Magical thinking – Young children, primitive cultures.

    Traditional – Children place great importance on what authorities say. In cultures.. well you figure it out.

    Rational – Discovery of the rational mind.

    Post rational – I think Zen is supposed to be the one example of this.

    I’m not sure that people get stuck; rather that people use the different types of thinking for different areas of their lives – RAtional thinking is really handy for understanding the objective world; traditional thinking is useful for living in a society, working with people and so on; the magical and post-rational types of thinking seem to me to be most useful for thigns like having spiritual beliefs, making love or doing other emotinally based activites.

    So maybe people read things that are rationally untrue because they are magically “true” in that they satisfy an emotional need. People are terrified of change so being told that old, traditional beliefs are true and evolutionists are just weirdo liberal revolutionaries is immensely emotionally reassuring.

    For the same reason, perfectly rational and educated women curl up with chick-lit at night before they go to sleep – obviously rationally “untrue” but completely “true” in a magical sense (if I wish for perfection/ a happy end then it WILL come). ANd in some ways, wish-fulfilment fantasies are true in a post-rational sense – post-ratioanlly I “know” that everything is an interconnected web of life and simultaneously an illusion and that the only imortant thing is my own sppiritual development. THerefore, to be offered the chance to practice patience, tolerance and compassion is fantastic and we need all the Hitlers we can get.

    RAtionally this is madness.
    Argh! How do I sleep at night? SEe chick-lit comment above!

  57. “Which brings me to my second point, for which I will make an analogy. Imagine you are at a party, conversing with someone. They seem nice, personable, and then suddenly start to poke you viciously in your left eye with a weenie toothpick.”

    So you’re claiming that Coulter physically assaulted you? No? Then your analogy doesn’t really work, does it?

    I don’t blame you if you don’t want to deal with Coulter’s claims on an intellectual level. But there is an alternative other than descending to her level: Just don’t talk about her at all.

    Are you trying to work for the spread of scientific literacy, or are you merely trying to impress people who hate the same people you hate?

    If the latter, keep calling people “deranged creationist liars.” I’m sure the people who find that sort of thing impressive will be very impressed. But if you actually want to teach people about science, then you are behaving foolishly. No one is suddenly going to realize that there are indeed transitional forms in the fossil record because you call Ann Coulter names. People being what they are, the effect will rather be the opposite: “If this jerk believes in evolution, then I’d rather be a creationist.”

  58. Bzzzt! Try again.

    The point of an analogy is that it’s an analogy. Of course I’m not saying Coulter physically attacked me. I’m saying she’s mentally attacking everyone.

    As for dealing with her claims on an intellectual level– all of her garbage has been debunked countless times, so I don’t feel the need to do a blow-by-blow. I have several posts on creationism with links to debunkings.

    And finally, I don’t think you and I will agree on your last paragraph either. I decided some time ago to call ‘em like I see ‘em. I am polite under almost all circumstances, but Ann Coulter has strived mightily to become a cartoon parody of a human being, and so I don’t feel overly pressured to treat her as I would a solid opponent.

  59. It’s difficult if not impossible to simply ignore a physical assault. Ignoring the yammering of the ignorant is much easier. You cant justify getting into a verbal spitting contest by analogy with a response to a physical assault. They are qualitatively different things. That’s why the analogy fails.

    If you want to launch personal attacks on Coulter, just do it. Don’t try to rationalize it as a mature and sensible response.

    It’s your decision how you want to run your blog. If you want to be just another blogger spewing venom for the entertainment of those who already agree with him, then good luck to you; you’ve got plenty of company in the blogoswamp. But you can’t do that *and* expect to appeal to people who don’t already agree with you.

  60. Jim Downard

    May I add my two cents worth? Coulter’s antievolutioniary chapters are indeed a pile of dingoes kidneys, but it is not a simple task of demolishing each and every statement of hers. Fortunately, though, I just love doing things like that, and am posting a point-by-point demolition at Talk Reason.org (with courtesy postings at Panda’s Thumb). Part IV (on the Cambrian) should be finished in about a week.

    This way Coulter’s critics will have a comprehensive resources to allude to on all of her evolution claims.

  61. Gillianren

    No, not everyone who disagrees with evolution is stupid or uneducated. However, they are ignorant (willfully?) in the field of biology. Ann Coulter’s beliefs notwithstanding, there is no real scientific doubt about evolution. None. What’s more, literally millions of people both believe in God and are aware that there is evidence that essentially proves evolution. (Though nothing in science is considered truly proven.)

    As the saying goes, not everyone is entitled to their own facts, and in this–as in so many other things–Ann Coulter is wrong. Flatly. I’m willing to say that she probably isn’t as wrong about as many things as Rush Limbaugh–that would be difficult!–but she clearly doesn’t know a thing she’s talking about when it comes to evolution.

    Do you know what I would do if I were going to write about evolution? I would talk to people doing actual work in the actual fields involved. Ann Coulter did not. She talked to people who are biased against it. Then again, it seems to be how she does all her research–talking to people she knows agree with her. Why bother being confronted with the facts?

  62. Natey T.

    I want to say, first off, that I’m a huge fan of this blog!

    But anyway, how awesome would it be to see Ann Coulter vs. Richard Dawkins?

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