More Recent Comments

Friday, September 26, 2008

Howler Monkeys

Back in the olden days before blogs, we had the newsgroup where the battle between evolution and creation was fought. The newsgroup still exists and it's still very active.

One of the most famous anti-evolutionists on was a man named Ted Holden. He was witty and prolific, as well as being a famous internet kook. Ted didn't like the fact that he had to defend himself against attacks from scores of people so he coined the term "Howler Monkeys" to describe the chorus of evolutionists who joined in whenever a creationist appeared. (Ted wasn't exactly a creationist in the traditional sense. There was very little about Ted that was "traditional.")

Here's a posting from Ted Holden in 1995 ...
The clique which dominates sees themselves as heroes, doing battle with the powers of darkness in an effort to prevent a return to the dark ages. I once noted that, to any outsider attempting to present anything other than the standard lock-step glop on t.o, they present what amounts to a sort of a tribal reaction, what one might expect from a tree-full of crows confronting a hawk or a tree of howler-monkeys encountering a leopard. The crew has since adopted the term "howler-monkeys" as a heraldic device, or metaphor, and refer to themselves as "howler monkeys" as a badge of honor.
Ted is right about the term "Howler Monkeys." Many people on were proud to call themselves Howler Monkeys and meetings of participants were called Howlerfests. We had a Toronto Howlerfest in 2005 that brought regulars like the Canadian cousin of Prof. Steve Steve (see photo), PZ Myers, Canadian Cynic, John Wilkins, and Jeffrey Shallit who have gone on to to become bloggers. You may have heard of some of these alumni.

Many of you don't know about Howler monkeys. Ms. Sandwalk just sent along this National Geographic video of Howler monkeys in action. I don't think she meant it as a compliment.


  1. I found it very difficult for a howler monkey group to encounter a leopard. The first species hails from Sout America, the second is from Africa.

    Marco Ferrari
    king of nitpicking

  2. Ah! Fond memories of Teddy!

    And it was the New York Howlerfest, that (IIRC) followed the Toronto one as Wilkins proceeded on his North American Tour, that, to some people's everlasting regret, started me on blogging.

  3. Great! Something else I can blame on Wilkins!

  4. Has Ted Holden ever come to one of the Howlerfests? He had a hand in creating them, after all.

  5. valhar2000 asks,

    Has Ted Holden ever come to one of the Howlerfests? He had a hand in creating them, after all.

    Yes. He went to one in Washington in the mid-1990s. You'd have to ask the people who were there but my impression was that they enjoyed meeting with him. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy.

    Many of us are much nicer in person. :-)

  6. The Latin motto of the University of Ediacara, an imaginary university invented as the center of the old culture, was "Arbor plena alouattarum", or "A tree full of howler monkeys." It also had the motto "Knowledge, Wisdom, Beer". Many of the posters to the old were professors at the University of Ediacara. For example, I was (and still am) Professor of Astrology and Lunacy, and I have a certificate attesting to that fact.

    The 1995 New York Howlerfest is commemorated here:

    Best wishes to Larry Moran, whose contributions I recall fondly.