The Mystery of the Missing Chromosomes, Continued: An Update From Your Preening Blogger

By Carl Zimmer | July 19, 2012 5:21 pm

[Note: This is the second of a four-part series:

Part One: The Mystery of the Missing Chromosome (With A Special Guest Appearance from Facebook Creationists)

Part Three: Four Days of Fusion Chromosome Freak-Out

Part Four: And Finally the Hounding Duck Can Rest]

Wow, what people will do to avoid answering your question.

Last night I started asking the people who run a creationist Facebook page for the evidence to back up a claim of theirs about evolution. I was told to buy their book. When I was asked again, I was told nothing.

I ended up researching the latest on this particular aspect of human evolution–the fusion of two of our chromosomes millions of years ago–and wrote a blog post today.

This afternoon I got an email from the creationists.

Dear Carl,

I edit Discovery Institute’s Evolution News & Views website. We’d be interesting [sic] in hosting an online debate between you and a contributor to Science and Human Origins. There are interesting issues to address and this is, I think, a much better format for that than Facebook. Please let me know if you’re agreeable in principle. If so, we can nail down a specific topic to debate and go over any further parameters. The format would be a simple point-counterpoint-point-counterpoint, with each post limited to 1000 words and focusing strictly on the ideas, not on personalities.

Best wishes,
David

I’m fairly sure that this is legitimate, because it comes from a discovery.org address, and because another Discovery Institute employee hinted at the same idea on the Facebook page.

I thought the question I asked was pretty simple. I wasn’t asking to hold a Lincoln-Douglas debate. I just asked what the evidence was for one of the claims made by the creationists.

Now it seems that in order to get that answer, I can either buy a book–which apparently is based on no peer-reviewed research of the authors, but just cherry-picked quotes from a ten-year old paper–or I can donate my time to write several thousands words for free for a creationist web site.

Making this offer even richer is Klinghoffer’s ground rules about focusing “strictly on the ideas, not on the personalities.” Klinghoffer himself has used Evolution News & Views to call people pathetic, a worthless bully, cowards, illiterate, and “a tyranny of the unemployed” (referring to Wikipedia editors). In one piece he wrote for Evolution New and Views, Klinhoffer mocked a post by a science blogger as “preening and self-congratulatory.”

That blogger happened to be me.

I will answer Mr. Klinghoffer publicly: no thanks. I never asked for a debate, and your arbitrary decrees, such as a mysterious thousand-word cutoff (my blog post on the chromosomes alone clocked in at over 2,000 words) make it even less appealing. I am particularly opposed to web sites that do not allow readers to comment. That’s how I ended up on Facebook in the first place–because the Discovery Institute’s web sites do not permit commenting. You, on the other hand, are more than welcome to leave a comment on my blog. My comment policy is very lax: I only throw out commenters who curse uncontrollably, hawk their own wares, or can’t stay on topic after repeated warnings. We have a thriving, fascinating discussion here, one from which I regularly learn new things from my readers. You might too.

Update: Klinghoffer confirms it was indeed he who emailed. He is also very tired of my asking the same question again and again, likening me to a duck. A preening duck, no doubt.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution
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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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