More (If More Were Needed) To Explain Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Do ID

Update: Parts two and three of Ken’s demolition of the Discovery Institute’s Luskin can be found here and here.  At the end of the third piece, Miller discusses why he feels compelled to re-destroy Luskin, Behe and the ID movement’s attempt to re-try the Dover case. His answer is that the Dover case was such a comprehensive legal blow to ID proponents that in order to advance their cause they need somehow to destroy the legal virtue of the decision rendered in that trial.  Hence the answer to my more or less explicit question at the bottom of the piece below.  Even if wrestling a pig usually ends up in the predicted outcome — you get dirty and the pig likes it — sometimes the work is necessary to keep the pig from getting out of the sty.  That Miller is willing to interrupt all the work I’m sure he’d much rather be doing to take this on is medal-worthy.


Ken Miller, hosted by the esteemable Carl Zimmer, writes a clear and comprehensive account of why claims that were wrong when they were made are still wrong in this dissection of the Discovery Institute’s gum-flapping on the issue of the so-called irreducible complexity of the blood clotting cascade.

For all my pleasure in reading Miller’s devastating julienning of  DI’s Casey Luskin, the image that came to my mind as I read this one comes from a very old tale, that of the Labors of Hercules*,  in which the Hydra presents the hero with a distinct problem:  how do you defeat an enemy that grows two heads for everyone you chop?

Hercules’ solution involved a pretty basic application of physical chemistry:  by calling on an assistant to use flaming brands to cauterize each stump before new growth could take hold, Hercules managed to render every neck headless without interruption, thus killing the monster.

We’re not there yet on this one — as evidenced by the fact that Miller has to tromp over the same ground he covered –devastatingly — three years ago at the Dover trial.

If I may be forgiven, it appears that the natural selection undergone by the creationist lineage has produced in this latest version a species singularly well adapted to the media environment in which it thrives.

It is damned hard to whack every individual folly that surfaces as a consequence. I’m deeply grateful to Ken for trying; but I would wish we had some good way to cauterize each particular bit of idiocy once, instead of having our heroes trudge out to battle over the same ground again and again.

I think I may have set a record for mixed metaphors in a sub-300 word blog post.  I’ll stop.

*Properly Herakles, but I was brought up with the old spelling, and so that’s the way it is.  My blog, my anachronisms.

Image:  Henri Rousseau, “The Repast of the Lion!” 1907.

Explore posts in the same categories: evolution, good public communication of science

3 Comments on “More (If More Were Needed) To Explain Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Do ID”

  1. I wonder whether this kind of object-level debunking obscures a more important force in the popular knowledge of science, viz., that most people accept the truth of heliocentrism, relativity, the germ theory of disease, Ohm’s Law, Boyle’s Law, Kepler’s Laws, the laws of thermodynamics, and on and on, based not on a particularized and exhaustive inquiry into all the evidence for and against each of these established theories, but (pretty much) on the say-so of science. And if that say-so is good enough for the theories above, it’s presumably good enough for evolution. Get that kind of ethos right, and a crank like Luskin will have a much harder time getting his foot in the door (or throwing a wrench in the ointment, to continue the metaphor-mixing theme of the post). Moreover, the strategy would rebuff cranks in all fields, not just creationists/ID theorists (cf. global warming skeptics vis-a-vis climatology, Holocaust denialists vis-a-vis historiography, HIV/AIDS denialists vis-a-vis epidemiology, and so forth).

  2. Problem is that what most people accept from science is limited to germs and heliocentrism, and they’re not so sure about germs. The rest? They’ve never heard of them – well, can’t remember anyway.

  3. I’m sure someone has said this before, but the IDists are engaged – deeply – in their own irreducible simplicity. (Yes, 633 hits on Google…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: