Lying deep in the heart of Texas

By Phil Plait | March 19, 2009 7:00 am

Y’know, those folks on the Texas State Board of Education (you know which ones I mean) love to talk about how they only want to allow educators in their state the freedom to teach what needs to be taught, to allow them the freedom to use outside materials for the classroom, the freedom to teach the controversy, that they would never try to force religion in the classroom.

But you know what? I’m starting to suspect that maybe those claims aren’t as close to the truth as they could be.

The Texas Freedom Network has the poop on these, well, poopers. Don McLeroy, the staunchly creationist head of the State BoE, recently endorsed a book that basically says they want to replace science with literal Bible interpretation in the classroom. You need to read this to believe it; as I’ve said before, the creationists on the BoE will say anything or do anything to indoctrinate children into their false realm of the 6000 year old Earth.

So go read the TFN blog, go read Sam’s post on Skepchick, and go do something. Make your voice heard.

Comments (61)

  1. MadScientist

    Y’ain’t listning are yew? Clean out those ears, buddy. Yew doan’ need ta know nuthin’ but wha’s i’ th’ Good Book. Yeah, we’re makin’ sure evruh Texan only knows what dey needs ta’know, ya know, like DUH!

  2. ND

    The TFN site has some comments posted and the longish one by a Charles is very interesting to read. The three experiences he describes with fundamentalists isn’t all that suprising but still won’t make you happy very happy.

  3. “Creationists do not want to bring religion into the classroom… Creationists simply want the God hypothesis brought back into the science classroom, and recognized for what it is—a scientifically valid hypothesis. (p. 24)”

    *headdesk headdesk headdesk*

    *headdesk*

    Now I feel better.

  4. It is strange that this is the only controversy that anyone wants to have taught. and it is only the Creationists, who want it taught.

    I’m suspecting that if they were to have children raise questions about what they have been taught about sexual orientation, the backers of this legislation would be apoplectic. If they had to teach all of the different controversies in science that are supported by at least as much evidence as Creationism, there would never be any actual teaching. Since there is no evidence, other than a literal misinterpretation of the Bible, to support Creationism, any old idea needs to be considered. (your puns are contagious.)

  5. is the skepchick link right?

  6. @Jack: That one is still rattling around in my head trying to find a way out. How someone’s brain could come up with a statement so fraught with logical errors is beyond me…

  7. Mister Rose

    I recall from the Dover trial that according to Behe, the standard for “science” had to be changed to accommodate Intelligent Design. The problem was that Astrology was considered valid at these different standards. Perhaps an argument, using the creationist vocabulary and style of reasoning, could be framed for including other kinds of pseudoscience, or even better other religions (scientology), into the curriculum. It seems counter-intuitive, but if you argue for more garbage, you might be able to convice the fence sitters that this will open Pandora’s box for more people to eat away at their kids’ brains.

    Not only that, but when they build their case against other dogmas, they are in effect building a case against themselves. They key is to use their system of logic (and its flaws) to shoot down their idea.

  8. QUASAR

    Everytime they stop teaching evolution in schools is like another bony hand from a grave coming out and grabbing us by the nuts!

  9. QUASAR

    And doesn’t this make you ask the question, ‘Are today’s “schools” really schools or just labor training camps and places of brainwashing?’

  10. @ Mister Rose:

    Exactly. They want God in the classroom? Give ‘em gods. Vishnu 101. Beginning Odinism. Allah in a Nutshell. The Old Ones and You.

    Their lies will be laid bare. They don’t want “the god hypothesis,” they want God. Their god. Yahweh who is Jesus who is the Holy Spirit.

  11. I’m right in the middle of reading Peter Sagal’s “Vice: Very Naughty Things (And How to Do Them)” (which I’m thoroughly enjoying, incidentally). In the chapter on lying, he gives the technique used to denying anything you want. He has some pretty good insights there as he studied Holocaust deniers for a play he wrote a decade ago. It applies to the Moon-hoaxers, AGW-deniers, Creationists, and quite a few more. It’s sort of eye-opening. Not particularly shocking, but it was interesting to see it laid out so clearly.

    Here’s the short form (read the book for the details, it’s worth it):
    1. Affect a calm and neutral demeanor so when your opponents are shocked, you look rational.
    2. Teach the controversy.
    3. Project your motives and methods onto the other side.
    4. Your arguments are specific and verifiable, your opponents are broad and assertive.
    5. Never give in.

    It’s better when you read the details, but it’s a pretty good look at how these folks operate.

  12. ‘Are today’s “schools” really schools or just labor training camps and places of brainwashing?’

    haven’t they always had a bit of that aspect? authoritarian grinding down of the spirit to make you a good citizen?

    anyway, as a Texan please allow me to apologize for on behalf of my state, as i slap myself repeated in the forehead.

    ow.

  13. Quiet_Desperation

    We need to start a net meme or something. Maybe a fake syllabus for a Texas school that teaches the Greek god pantheon as reality. There could be advice for extensive hands on exploration of the activities pursued by these deities, such as Zeus’ bestiality fetish. Even after the fake is revealed, the creationists are then put in the position of having to explain why their picture of reality is all that much different.

    It’s time for serious propaganda, folks. Rise! Rise to the challenge!

  14. Quiet_Desperation

    Are today’s “schools” really schools or just labor training camps

    That wouldn’t be so bad if they actually trained anyone to do anything, but they don’t even do that.

  15. A new bill is coming up in Texas to allow peope to recieve a Masters of Sciences in Creations Science. Spotted the story on Fox News of all places.

  16. Daniel J. Andrews

    In global warming science-based threads, you’re constantly told to go to the source. Don’t get your information from a blog where someone tells you what the science is saying, but read the science yourself, or read a science-based blog from people who are do actual climatology (e.g. RealClimate.org). In other words, get your information from the horse’s mouth, not the horse’s a$$.

    In this case the book is free for downloading. I suggest reading/skimming it for yourself to see if what they are saying is what we’re told it says. Otherwise, believing something third-hand just because it comes from a source that we know fits into our personal ideological mindset (e.g. BA, SkepChick) makes us sloppy thinkers no different than AGW denialists and creationists.

    Personally I think Phil’s take is most likely accurate, but it is always good to double-check when you have time. I’m tired of people who, having never read Darwin and his book Origin of Species, criticize it and most often get it all wrong. Just because we’re sceptics does not make us immune to the same faults.

    In fact, having read Behe, Wells, Gish and the like I know that some of our arguments are based on taking their passages out of context and making them say what they never intended to say. That scores you a cheap point, but the cost is that someone can easily disprove that particular argument and they go away convinced that scientists/sceptics are dishonest and can’t be trusted to engage in worthy dialogue. There are enough legitimate points where creationists are dead wrong, we don’t need to twist their words to make them say things they’ve never said.

    As sceptics I think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of intellectual honesty, and to do our human best to avoid falling into the same ideological knee-jerk reaction traps that we [rightfully] criticize our opponents for falling into.

    Ok, rant over. Just my pet peeve here.

  17. I’m thinking someone needs to do a parody Jack Chick tract poking fun at these guys. Like the “Satanist indoctrinating our children with D&D” but with “Young Earthers brainwashing our children” instead.

  18. Greg in Austin

    This makes me so mad, I’m literally angry with rage!

    I’ll see what I can do.

    8)

  19. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget said:

    @ Mister Rose:

    Exactly. They want God in the classroom? Give ‘em gods. Vishnu 101. Beginning Odinism. Allah in a Nutshell. The Old Ones and You.

    Their lies will be laid bare. They don’t want “the god hypothesis,” they want God. Their god. Yahweh who is Jesus who is the Holy Spirit.

    Yup, s’right. Otherwise, what would there be? Crawling Chaos, that’s what . . .

  20. Nigel Depledge

    Quiet Desperation said:

    We need to start a net meme or something. Maybe a fake syllabus for a Texas school that teaches the Greek god pantheon as reality. There could be advice for extensive hands on exploration of the activities pursued by these deities, such as Zeus’ bestiality fetish. Even after the fake is revealed, the creationists are then put in the position of having to explain why their picture of reality is all that much different.

    Ooh! Ooh! Can I do Bacchus?

  21. Nigel Depledge

    DG Knipfer said:

    A new bill is coming up in Texas to allow peope to recieve a Masters of Sciences in Creations Science. Spotted the story on Fox News of all places.

    Now, there’s the oxymoron to end them all!

  22. Todd W.

    @Nigel Depledge

    Ooh! Ooh! Can I do Bacchus?

    Only so long as you are paying proper tribute to him while developing the lesson plan.

  23. José

    They can use my new textbook Of Prometheus and People. Learn how the world began as chaos! Memorize the pattern of moles on the back of Hephaestus or be cast into Tartarus! Understand how Cronus cutting off the balls of Uranus gave rise to the platypus!

  24. @ Daniel Andrews:

    I think the original Skepchick post Dr. BA linked to had very good examples of the proposed amendments to the Texas educational standards, quoted verbatim. It was quite plain (especially in the amendment covering natural selection and “proposed” transitional fossils) that the agenda of these people is not science, but creationism.

    That being said, it is true, everyone should stick to the high ground. Unfortunately, when you’re wallowing through the mire of creationist thinking, that ground isn’t elevated much higher than a cow flop in a corn field.

  25. Gary Ansorge

    My opinion of religionists of all stripes is that they are hung up on a need for certainty, that reality must have some reason for being. Thus they ignore all evidence not supportive of their view. That makes them essentially un-sane.

    David Brin, in his story Earth, discusses what we mean by “true sanity”, which has nothing to do with norms or averages:
    ” What are the most common traits of nearly all forms of mental illness?”
    Nearly all sufferers lack:

    1)flexibility- to be able to change your opinion or course of action, if shown clear evidence you were wrong.
    2) satiability- the ability to feel satisfaction if you actually get what you said you wanted and to transfer your strivings to other goals
    3) extrapolation- an ability to realistically access the possible consequences of your actions and to empathize or guess how another person might think or feel.

    Unfortunately, ambition, the mammalian desire to win, is not included in this definition.

    I expect, for the progenitors of the Texas ED boards drive to include their world view in science classes, it’s much more about the desire to win, at any cost.

    Zues would be so proud of them,,,

    Gary 7

  26. ND

    John Weis,

    Interesting book. A character named Anaconda recently graced this blog with his presence and intellect and I’ve tried to match him up against the 5 points you listed from the book:

    1. Affect a calm and neutral demeanor so when your opponents are shocked, you look rational.
    – At the very start he seemed this way but it quickly turned into strong accusations regarding the character of those debating him. When an actual scientist

    2. Teach the controversy.
    – The path that modern astronomy has gone down appeared to him to be a big contraversy given how the ideas he was promoting was being completely ignored by the field.

    3. Project your motives and methods onto the other side.
    – Did he ever! Many instances where he accused others debating him with the same motives, attitudes, methods and beliefs he demonstrated.

    4. Your arguments are specific and verifiable, your opponents are broad and assertive.
    – I’m not sure about the second part. A lot of proponents do put forth what sounds like specifics and things one can look up and verify. Simply putting forth specifics, no matter how bogus they may turn out to be, has the air of authenticity and truth to it. How you deliver it is very important in how many people will believe in you right there and then.

    5. Never give in.
    – He never gave in. Or at least very few times. Or simply ignored those counter arguments that pointed out problems with his. There is also a tendency to be very prolific with points. It becomes hard to debate and keep track of all them all. If it becomes hard to counter all the points made, it appears that you’re ignoring or not able to counter some of them.

  27. Jenita

    Only in the South………

  28. Karl

    May the great worm we evolved from, help us all. =P

  29. David D

    @jenita–

    Wrong. Delaware, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Ohio have all been in the creationism vs. evolution battle.

    Pay attention before you post.

  30. numsix

    Warning, long rambling ahead.

    I have to say this about ID et. all…

    Background on my old high school:
    A RC high school.
    The school was run by priests of the Congregation of St. Basil.
    Religion was a class we took (less electives in RC high schools than the public schools)
    In grade nine we took biology – mandatory course.
    Not all teachers were priests (the majority were not).
    In grade 11 we took a world religion course (mandatory – it was a RC school after all) to learn about different religions in the modern world.

    Now the relevant part (I hope anyway):
    The grade nine science teacher was a member of the Congregation of St. Basil.
    He taught Biology, specifically the EVOLUTION of the human cell.

    He taught evolution.

    Fr. Megan; that was his name, – RIP – was always saying what skeptics say, the world is beautiful, and there is no need to make things up. Now, remember he was a RC priest. He attributed the creation of the world to god. But never taught anything from the bible as science.
    The man was a scientist. He had what would be called “strong Faith”.

    So, I hear and read all this creationist stuff and I am left stunned.
    The most devout man I every knew – please no “in the biblical sense” jokes – would never take the bible literal. He did a good job of teaching scientific method; he fooled us by not using the ‘S’ word.

    End rambling.

    Great site! I love this site.

  31. Gary Ansorge

    Speaking of Ponzi schemes,,,

    Has anybody noticed that religions which sell Heaven/Paradise are a perfect Ponzi, ie, “send us your money and you can get into heaven(Catholic church)” because they never have to pay off the old “investors”. I mean, no one has ever returned from Paradise complaining that their 72 virgins (return on investment) weren’t up to snuff,,,

    Wow! What a deal,,,

    GAry 7

  32. Texas needs more Lovecraftians.

  33. @ numsix:

    The most devout man I every knew – please no “in the biblical sense” jokes – would never take the bible literally

    Num, have you ever read any of John Shelby Spong’s books? He is an Episcopalian deacon, later bishop, who quite eloquently and passionately argued that a literal reading of the Bible was utterly missing the point and ignoring the power of the metaphors included in the work, and was by implication thumbing your nose at God/Jesus/HS because you were ignoring the much grander work that is the world around you. He also implied that if the Christian mythos wasn’t your cup of tea, find another one that works for you. So long as it helps to make you better person and doesn’t hurt anyone else, go for it.

    If a Christian wants to have faith in their religion, they can still use the Bible as a tool to help themselves lead a good life (would that more of them would read the New Testament, and skip the old, as Jeebus pretty much commanded). Trouble is, the fundies aren’t really concerned about their lives. They want to tell you how to live yours.

    All that being said, however, I have to hand it to the fundies, they are continuing the tradition started in the early days of their church. The people who promoted the Christian gospels (though perhaps not the ones who actually wrote them) certainly wanted them taken for literal truth. I don’t think they were quite so clear about the Old Testament stories, except when they started mining them for “evidence” to prove their case about Jesus, but all the NT gospels were sold as Truth with a capital T pretty much from the get-go.

    Props to the fundies for keeping the tradition going.

  34. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It’s a tragic story of course, but I find myself chuckling. Why? Because of the LOLscience made! (Or perhaps BA prefers POOPscience.)

    Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.

    Non sequitur much?

    First, it would be amazing that a biologist would refer to reptiles as a root of descent, seeing that Reptilia is paraphyletic and not a proper clade. I believe the proper reference then would be “non-avian reptiles”.

    Second, Reptilia and Synapsida (“mammals and all extinct amniotes more closely related to mammals than to reptiles”) are sister clades! In no way, sense or form do mammals descend from reptiles, so NAS wouldn’t teach that.

    In fact, even if they then are AFAIU equally ancestral (equally “primitive”), synapsids radiated earlier than reptiles:

    The fossil record provides conclusive evidence that synapsids are the first amniotes to diversify. Synapsids quickly became the most diverse, widespread and most common amniotes in the Late Carboniferous, and they maintained this predominant position throughout the Paleozoic. Only during the Early Mesozoic are the synapsids eclipsed by the evolutionary radiation of reptiles (Benton, 1983; Charig, 1984). [Tree of Life web project. My bold.]

    So there you have it. The “science” caricature of Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. wouldn’t be taught. But what would be taught have conclusive evidence.

    Out of millions of species on this planet, the evo-atheists cannot specifically trace back the “evolutionary” ancestry of one of them even a single “evolutionary” generation.

    There is AFAIU only two ways to make biological sense of this.

    Either one can refer to evolution under a population [which is the evolving entity] generation, in which case scientists will present their parent’s generation as their ascendants.

    Or one can refer to fixation of traits as a sort of “generation”, more properly evolution rate, in which case scientists may refer to sickle-cell anemia or several cases of lactose tolerant populations as known “generations”.

    [The creationist probably refers to speciation though, in which case there are several specific examples, such as the nylon-eating bacteria which inhabits a new niche (ecological species), and is a strain of Flavobacterium, or the new mosquito Culex molestus of London’s subways, which is reproductively separated (biological species) from surrounding C. pipiens.]

    Btw, speaking of science and its ramifications, you can’t base atheism solely on evolution so “evo-atheist” isn’t a definable term.

    Not surprising that an antiscience activist wouldn’t know the science he flails against, but more surprising that already the book title pulls down the pants on his inept standing.

  35. numsix

    @kuhnigget

    have you ever read any of John Shelby Spong’s books?

    No, I haven’t. I should go look them up, but I read tech stuff at work, and enjoy sci-fi & XBox on my down time.

    Actually in 14 years of RC schooling (K-13) not one teacher; priest, nun, other, that taught any class I took, including religion class, ever promoted the bible as literal.
    As a matter of fact, in high school; I seem to recall parable being mentioned a lot.
    Also, with history in religion class; the translation issue was brought forth as well: “different time, different values/priorities”

  36. Pac

    @Mad Scientist

    Oi… ya know some Texans… like say myself and the folks at TFN are trying to fight this.

    Not all of us have an accent ya know. Though of course the cowboy hat and six-shooter are mandatory.

  37. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oops. “Reptilia (with Aves) and Synapsida … are sister clades”.

    You know, I seem to see two definitions of Reptilia here, the older Linnean group (without birds) in Wikipedia, and a new evolutionary clade definition (with birds) in TOL. So I plead not guilty of confusion … ehm, I mean … drat!

  38. TheBlackCat

    @ Torbjörn: It’s actually kind of interesting. Lots of people have heard about dinosaurs, but relatively few seem to realize it was actually our relatives that were the dominant land animals initially. If it wasn’t for a freak natural disaster that nearly wiped out all life on Earth, dinosaurs might have ended up as the small animals running around the feet of the large, dominant synapsids. They certainly started out that way. Who knows how the history of life might have changed. There certainly wouldn’t be any birds, at least not as we know them. The evolution of birds would have required the diversification of early dinosaurs and probably the evolution of larger theropods (since we now know feathers evolved well before flight).

  39. Numsix, my RC school experience was a lot like yours. Nobody ever told us anything about ID or Creationism. But then again, that’s RC. And any good Creationist or IDer worth his amphigory scout badge will tell you that RCers really aren’t Christians and certainly they would argue that we were taught blasphemy in our schools.

    Not that I care… I left RC behind a long time ago, and to me, this Creationist/ID nonsense is just so much wishful thinking.

  40. José

    @TheBlackCat
    It’s actually kind of interesting. Lots of people have heard about dinosaurs, but relatively few seem to realize it was actually our relatives that were the dominant land animals initially.

    It’s a pity too, because they’re so damn cool. I think the only synapsid most people have heard of is Dimetrodon, and that’s only because he’s often included in children’s dino-books as an early dinosaurs.

  41. /facepalm

    There are no words to epress how epic a fail this is…

  42. numsix

    @LarianLeQuella

    It all seems to come back to “the stupid, it burns”

  43. JB of Brisbane

    @Numsix,

    I have a strong suspicion that those promoting the Bible account of creation as literal truth are also those who claim that the Catholic Church has been deceived and corrupted by “SATAN!!!!!!” In their wierd circular method of reasoning, they would probably use your account above of your biology teacher as proof of that view.

  44. José

    @JB of Brisbane
    I attended a sermon in the early 90’s about how Pope John Paul II was the Anti-Christ. They’ve probably moved on to Obama by now.

  45. papageno

    Of course the Roman Catholic Church does not promote a literal interpretation of the Bible. The whole point of its hierarchy is to play the middle man and provide the “correct” interpretation of the scriptures to the masses.

  46. MadScientist

    @Chris: don’t hit yourself too much; we don’t want you joining the other braindamaged nuts.

  47. MadScientist

    @Pac: Hey, I’m no ignoramus; I’ve got lots of buddies from Texas and none of them are anything like what the movies tell us a Texan should be. Aside from that, it’s hard to imagine that such a large population can be so stupid – but of course if people don’t fight the idiots that sort of thing could happen – I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere on the planet. I had seen babies that had been boiled alive – boiling water poured over them to banish the evil spirits that possess them – that was the 1970s and I imagine that backward place hadn’t changed much since then. (Survival rate for the poor kids was low.) But if we let the morons have their way, in a few generations we may very well end up with that sort of society – or at the very least one that believes in praying for cures rather than working for cures and that probably still ranks with boiled babies on the stupid scale, which is just a few points below Pope Hitler’s “condoms promote AIDS” nonsense.

  48. Cairnos

    kuhniggit says “They want God in the classroom? Give ‘em gods. Vishnu 101. Beginning Odinism”

    Oh yes especially Odinism, most of the course work would be drinking….but the final test would be a killer. Could only be taught at schools within a reasonable distance of a suitably large tree though ;-)

  49. Charles Schmidt

    Well it seems that there are those in Texas that do have some reason in the matter please read this article in the Dallas News.

    http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/03/state-board-of-education-targe.html

  50. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ TheBlackCat and José:

    Yes, this non-biologist thinks so too.

    we now know feathers evolved well before flight

    With the synchronicity of the wub, I just read about Tianyulong, one of two ornitichians that may push feathers, or at least “fuzz”, to the very earliest dinosaurs AFAIU. Not Exactly Rocket Science (evidently not exactly Bad Astronomy either) notes:

    The big question is whether Tianyulong‘s filaments were actually related to the proto-feathers of the theropods. Zheng can’t be sure based on a single specimen, but he notes that there are definitely similarities. Among the theropods, the proto-feathers of Sinosauropteryx were most similar to those of Tianyulong – they were shorter and more slender, but they also didn’t branch. They also have similarities to the feathers recently found on Beipaiosaurus, which were hailed as the simplest yet discovered.

    It’s possible that Tianyulong‘s filaments evolved independently from those of theropods. Indeed, no one has found evidence of proto-feathers in the earliest species of theropods, which suggests that the last common ancestor of this group didn’t have them.

    The more intriguing idea is that Tianyulong‘s filaments were a direct part of the evolutionary lineage that led to true feathers, which would mean that the common ancestor of saurisichians and ornithischians was fuzzy. It could have had simple filaments that were retained by Tianyulong, developed into true feathers by the theropods, and lost in many other lineages. Zheng thinks that the similarities between Tianyulong‘s filaments and those of Beipaiosaurus supports this idea.

    Only one other ornithischian, an early horned dinosaur called Psittacosaurus, had similar structures but its filaments were sparser, more rigid and only found on its tail. Perhaps these too were elaborate versions of some ancestral filament, borne by the earliest dinosaurs some 230 million years ago.

    Feathered-dinos.jpg

    In a related editorial, Lawrence Witmer says:

    “Perhaps the only clear conclusion that can be drawn… is that little Tianyulong has made an already confusing picture of feather origins even fuzzier. Such an outcome is common in palaeontology. But the prospects of new fossils, new molecular and imaging techniques, and even new ideas, offer the hope of bringing the evolutionary picture into sharper focus — and that picture may well end up being of fuzzy dinosaurs.”

    [Links removed.]

    A fuzzy but cute picture of this lineage, IMHO.

  51. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oops oops oops oops, on the previous comment in moderation.

    Yes, this non-biologist thinks so too.

    That it is exciting, that is.

    – Sorry about the unclosed tag. [When will we get preview instead of pew-pew-pew-view?]

    – Also, there was a later credit for the image that I missed – wouldn’t want BA to get in trouble:

    Image: Reconstruction by Li-Da Xing

    – Finally, I should mention that this was from a “Research Blogging” article, so there are references.

  52. Fuzzy dinosaurs??? OMG! BARNEY!!!!!!!

  53. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Thanks for the link Larian, that was interesting/exciting too. [creationist] Those pesky biologists with their lab bottles, how dare they study the process of life?! [/creationist]

    Btw, on my previous comments I note there was a 5th oops, I misspelled “ornitischians”. :- [But the figure worked! :-o]

    PS. OMGBBQ, I googled up Barney the dinosaur, and he was … colorful. Exactly the kind of adornment fuzz, or at least feathers, could create. So I’ll add Barney in the big box labeled “evidence for evolution”.

  54. Nigel Depledge

    ND said:

    He never gave in. Or at least very few times. Or simply ignored those counter arguments that pointed out problems with his. There is also a tendency to be very prolific with points. It becomes hard to debate and keep track of all them all. If it becomes hard to counter all the points made, it appears that you’re ignoring or not able to counter some of them.

    This sounds like a prime example of the Gish gallop.

  55. Nigel Depledge

    The Black Cat said:

    @ Torbjörn: It’s actually kind of interesting. Lots of people have heard about dinosaurs, but relatively few seem to realize it was actually our relatives that were the dominant land animals initially. If it wasn’t for a freak natural disaster that nearly wiped out all life on Earth, dinosaurs might have ended up as the small animals running around the feet of the large, dominant synapsids. They certainly started out that way.

    I did not know this, per se. But my memories of the Carboniferous and Permian are a bit hazy. Oh, hang on. That came out wrong. My memories of what I have read of the Carboniferous and Permian are hazy.

    Who knows how the history of life might have changed. There certainly wouldn’t be any birds, at least not as we know them. The evolution of birds would have required the diversification of early dinosaurs and probably the evolution of larger theropods (since we now know feathers evolved well before flight).

    Erm . . . IIUC, did not the avian lineage diverge from the dinosaur lineage some time in the Triassic?

  56. Pac

    @Madscientist

    Well glad to hear it, I didn’t want to totally shock anyone by saying I didnt even own a pair of boots, but I now I feel I safely can.

    The last eight years taught me that people can be that stupid, I yelled, screamed, protested and wrote letters for 5 years and it wasn’t until 2006 when people finally started coming around to the idea that what we had been doing was WRONG.

    Oi and you had to mention the Nazi Pope yikes, I think my day just got started on the wrong foot.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    OK, I just read Torbjorn’s comment with the excerpt from the article and now realise that the last part of my previous comment was completely wrong and oversimplistic.

    D’oh!

  58. ND

    Nigel Depledge,

    I had to look up Gish gallop. Thanks, that’s close to what Anaconda was doing. He was trying to overwhelm with all sorts of points. Most often he just didn’t understand the science he was trying to debate with (for or against).

    What was interesting is he ended up using the god-of-the-gaps technique a few times.

  59. Isn’t Sunday school enough already?

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