Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why the Right People Hate IDiots

Jonathan Wells (see photo) is one of the leading intelligent design creationists. (As we'll see, that says a lot about the intellectual vacuum that characterizes that cult.)

Wells is best known as the author of Icons of Evolution, a book that makes a virtue out of lying for Jesus (and for Reverend Sun Myung Moon). Almost everything that Wells writes about is demonstrably wrong but that never seems to stop him. He should be an embarrassment to the intelligent design creationist cult except that the members of that cult are all incapable of separating fact from fiction when it comes to science. I've posted previously about two of Well's most egregious falsehoods in Icons because we dissected them in a course I taught last semester [Peppered Moths and the Confused IDiots; Fossil Horses and Directed Evolution].

Recently (Feb. 29) Wells posted an article about the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and claimed that the authors (Maurice et al. 2008) did not make use of evolution in their study [The Irrelevance of Darwinian Evolution to Antibiotic Resistance]. Here's what Wells said about the work from Dardel's lab.
Third, Dardel and his colleagues made their discovery using protein crystallography. They were not guided by Darwinian evolutionary theory; in fact, they had no need of that hypothesis.
When I first saw the Wells article I seriously wondered whether Jonathan Wells was mentally stable. It looks like he has become completely unhinged since the point of his article is so far from the truth that even a kindergarten student can recognize the lies. (Not surprisingly, the other intelligent design creationists were completely sucked into the lie.)

Ian Musgrave was the first one to hold his nose and post a rebuttal of the Wells article [How stupid do they think we are?]. Somebody had to do it—thanks Ian for doing the research. Your title says it all.

Now, here's the best part. The senior author of the study, Frederic Dardel, posted a comment on The Panda's Thumb website [Frederic Dardel comment]. Here's what Dardel said ...
As principal investigator of the study under discussion, I’d like to strongly support the view advocated this page. In fact, I was completely amazed to see how our work has been misrepresented by M. Wells.

Actually, we did indeed use darwinian evolution within this work (something unusual in structural biology). In order to obtain an enzyme with increased stability (a critical point for structural studies), we used selective pressure to obtain mutants of the enzyme. We selected for bateria with increased aminiglycoside resistance, by plating them on antibiotic containing medium. It turned out that some bacteria evolved such stabler enzymes variants which made this whole study possible !

Finally, I would not consider myself as a chemist, I got my PhD in molecular microbiology. It seems that M. Wells finds it easier to portray us as non-biologists, and hence implicitly as non-evolutionists.
Delicious. PZ Myers picked up on this and posted an article with the title Wells says something stupid again. Of course he did, that's why we call them IDiots.

Now, in light of this you might expect Jonathan Wells to apologize and admit he was wrong. Hands up all those who think he'll do the honorable thing.

WRONG! You guys just don't understand the creationist mentality. Here's how it works, quoting today's posting on Evolution News & Views [Being Hated by the Right People].
As Johnny Cash reputedly once said, “It’s good to know who hates you, and it’s good to be hated by the right people.”

Darwinist bloggers P. Z. Myers and Ian Musgrave hate me. In fact, Myers writes, “My animus for Jonathan Wells knows no bounds.” Well, at least he (unlike Musgrave) spells my name right.

The most recent outbursts by Myers and Musgrave were provoked by my February 29 blog on Evolution News & Views, in which I predicted that Darwinists would try to take credit for a recent French discovery regarding antibiotic resistance. And indeed they did.

In the course of claiming credit for Darwinism, Musgrave claims that I completely misrepresent evolution, molecular biology, genetics and history. Wow. At least I get points for comprehensiveness. As proof of my misrepresentations, Musgrave cites Wikipedia, which everyone involved in this controversy knows is about as balanced and reliable on this issue as P.Z. Myers’s Pharyngula or The National Center for Science Miseducation’s Panda’s Thumb.


The principal researcher in the French study disagrees, and wrote to Musgrave’s blog that "we did indeed use Darwinian evolution within this work (something unusual in structural biology). In order to obtain an enzyme with increased stability (a critical point for structural studies), we used selective pressure to obtain mutants of the enzyme."

So the researchers used artificial selection to good advantage. But artificial selection is not Darwinism. People were using artificial selection for centuries before Darwin came along, and they didn’t need Darwin to explain it to them. Darwin argued that an analogous process also operates in natural populations – and so it does. But he and his devoted followers went much further and claimed that it also explains the origin of new species, organs and body plans, which it doesn’t.
You just can't make this stuff up. Wells is an IDiot. I intensely dislike Wells and the lying tactics he uses to promote his cult of intelligent design creationism. I hope that puts me among the "right people."

[Photo Credit: Evolution News & Views]

Maurice, F., Broutin, I., Podglajen, I., Benas, P., Collatz, E. and Dardel, F. (2008) Enzyme structural plasticity and the emergence of broad-spectrum antibiotic resistance. EMBO Rep. 2008 Feb 22 [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]


  1. Wells is lying again. He refers to Ian citing wikipedia and makes it appear as if he scholarship is shoddy. In reality, Ian was making a rhetorical point - what Wells wrote was so utterly shitty, you could even use wikipedia to refute it.

    It's also worth pointing out that if Wells is going to be snobby about wikipedia, I'm going to be snobby about Rivista Di Biologia, the joke journal in which he published his roundly refuted centriole hypothesis. I'd probably rather submit a paper to Facebook than that Rivista.

    The rest of his response is too stupid to even comment on.

  2. Wait wait wait wait, hold on, I thought that Darwinian evolution by natural selection was a process which didn't care whether the selection pressures were due to the environment or due to human intervention (which to the bacteria in question, do consist of the environment). The point was that the enzymes evolved; just because the researchers were selecting for stable enzymes wasn't even relevant, the fact is that they EVOLVED. Look, my PhD is in MIS, not biology, but if I'm understanding this correctly, why can't Wells? I think it is absolutely amazing that the bacteria could evolve so quickly.

  3. Yes, richard wolford, your understanding is correct. The distinction between natural selection and artificial selection is artificial, an example of human exceptionalism.

  4. To quote Marvin the Martian, "It makes me very angry, very angry indead." Oh, and I want to say very rude and nasty, but I don't think that will get us anywhere.


  5. And it is by invoking the human exceptionalism of creationists and/or "information by design" of IDiot creationists specifically that Wells wins his rhetorical point.

    But looses the scientific, which we should remind remaining IDiots and other "scientific creationists" out there. Wells is perverting science, and should be treated like the pervert he is:

    "Wells, when you lie for Moon, why do you do it to conceal your rape of beautiful and alluring science?"

    Wells is, of course, a complete and contemptible traitor to human aspirations in science & society and his own exceptionalism, as well as to knowledge and his own perverted idea of "information". I offer this series of posts as easy to understand (except for IDiots) evidence.

  6. "Look, my PhD is in MIS, not biology, but if I'm understanding this correctly, why can't Wells?"

    You are understanding correctly. There is no mechanistic difference between artificial and natural selection; they are the same thing, simply with different sources of selection pressure. But creationists, no matter how insane, have never argued that nature lacks strong selective pressures. (Just watching a nature program is enough to debunk that.) Instead they argue that it is impossible to go from organism (or protein) A to B, that intermediate steps are not viable, or that the changes are too complex. An example using artificial selection is every bit as good for debunking this argument as one using natural selection (which they wouldn't accept anyway).

    I'm sure Wells is perfectly capable of understanding all of this. Unlike PZ or perhaps Larry, I don't think Wells is stupid (though he is willfully ignorant about a lot of things). I think instead that he's conscientiously dishonest. He knows his arguments are garbage, he just doesn't care. He's a pea in the pod with the other IDists, who are fighting a culture war in which the only goal is to persuade people, and it doesn't much matter how they do it. If there's some disgusting or despicable bit of behavior we haven't seen out of them, I'm hard pressed to think of it. Science and other intellectual pursuits are not their concern.

  7. Gotta love the byplay:

    Wells: The work in this paper does not rely on evolution.

    Guy Who Wrote The Paper: Yes, we did.

    Wells: No, you didn't! Didn't didn't didn't!

    And having already read Musgrave at PT, Wells' wikipedia innuendo stood out to me like the outrageous lie that it is.

  8. I'm glad I understand correctly then. Evolution was not taught in my wonderful high school (sarcasm of course). But I opted to learn about evolution rather than dismiss it, and I tell you it's a wonderful thing. I don't understand how someone can be so dishonest. Look at the wonders science has brought to us and the discoveries we've made. I stand in awe of all we know and in greater awe of what we still don't know. Such as sad life these IDiots must have, never to know the wonder of discovery.

  9. I, for one, am looking forward to reading Well's next review in Arrivederci Di Biologia. Science and a great recipe section.

  10. But I opted to learn about evolution rather than dismiss it, and I tell you it's a wonderful thing.

    Evolution beats the alternative.

    I don't understand how someone can be so dishonest.

    You haven't been following the Creationism issue for any length of time, have you?

  11. Wells cited a paper from 1956. Is it just me, or does it seem like he avoids using the latest data in his articles?

  12. Indeed. Whereas we believe such a sad life you secularists must lead never to See the wonderment of God and his Holy Son!

  13. EyeNoU said...

    Wells cited a paper from 1956. Is it just me, or does it seem like he avoids using the latest data in his articles?

    The older the data the more reliable it must be. Two thousand years old is particularly good.