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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Do the IDiots Really Know What Evidence Looks Like?

I've been dealing with Intelligent Design Creationists for over twenty years. I've spent a lot of time addressing their scientific misconceptions and trying to explain where they've gone wrong. A few years ago, for example, I posted a whole series of article on Jonathan Wells' book The Myth of Junk DNA. A few weeks ago I explained why Jonathan McLatchie was wrong about pseudogenes.

Lately, I been focusing on one of the chapters in Darwin's Doubt—it's the one on molecular evolution and I know something about that subject. It has been pretty easy to show why Mayer is wrong about his conclusions.

That's why it's so frustrating to read what journalist Tom Bethell said the other day on Evolution News & Views (sic) ["What Is the World Really Like?" Darwinism, Materialism, and How They Relate].
The explicit materialism of the Darwinians is the mirror image of creationism. Creationists are easy for scientific materialists to rebut, because the materialists can say, "That is just your belief. We don't have to accept that." In a parallel way, we can say to the materialists: "That is just your belief. We don't have to accept that. And it is the real basis of your evolutionism."

In between the Creationists and the Materialists we encounter the scientific evidence that makes the materialist position increasingly improbable -- the evidence that Stephen Meyer recently presented in Darwin's Doubt: information theory, insufficiency of the fossil record, epigenetics, complexity of life at the molecular level, and so on.

Increasingly, it seems to me, the Darwinians are responding to this science by saying (in effect): "Bah! We won't read that! It's creationism in disguise." They get graduate students like Nick Matzke, or incompetents like John Farrell (in National Review of all places), to do the work for them. All along the Darwinists have found that their materialism has allowed them to lie back and relax without really bothering to study the evidence.

Now that may be changing. They are being put in a position where they just might have to hit the books. I suspect it is not a prospect that they relish.
Keep in mind that this is written by a man who denies that humans cause global warming and denies that HIV causes AIDS.

He has no idea what evidence looks like.


  1. That's just the tip of the iceberg, Larry.


    1. I wait in vain for clowns like Bethell to explain how a theory like relativity, which he claims is all wrong, can explain how the measured value of the anomalous moment of the electron agrees with the value computed from quantum electrodynamics to 1 part in 10 billion. As Feynman said, that's like measuring the distance between the Empire State Building in New York City and City Hall in downtown Los Angeles to the nearest inch.

    2. Forget the the anomalous moment of the muon. This IDiot Bethell can't explain what goes on in particle accelerators every freaking day. Every day, particle accelerators and cyclotrons zip particles around at near-lightspeed, which would normally decay at super-speed, but their decay is slowed down by time dilation, precisely as described by special relativity. These anti-relativity zealots can't explain something simple like that.

      And then there are the phenomena of general relativity. For example, GPS signals from satellites go down into the gravity well of Earth, and time is slowed down in the gravity well, so the frequencies of the signal have to be adjusted to account for gravitational time dilation.

      There's no excuse for this nonsense.

    3. Re Diogenes

      I got into an argument with a clown over on Ethan Siegel's blog who maintained, after I mentioned the observation that fast muons have been observed to have longer lifetimes then slow muons, that what was happening was that the muons were really traveling faster then light and that the apparent time dilation was illusory. Of course, the problem with that claim is that, if it were true, one would not need a synchrotron as the mass of accelerated protons would be constant. Its the increase in mass of accelerated protons in a cyclotron that causes the electric pulses that accelerate them to get out of synch with their cycles.

  2. I operate with the view that the spokespersons for C/ID will never come around. Disproving their ideas with facts, and supporting our ideas with facts will always be dismissed by them b/c their worldview depends on there being an agency to explain our existence. B/c an agent (God) must exist, and b/c there must be a plan for our lives, all evidence against agency, purpose, and design must be wrong. Convincing the spokespersons of C/ID will never happen, IMO. Witness the fact that they have been given more than enough facts to persuade them, and yet they are not persuaded.
    This problem does not fully apply to the ‘lay’ believers of C/ID. Although they too are under the spell of false beliefs, their position is in part b/c of ignorance. This blog can cast out some of that ignorance, Dr. Moran, so keep it up! Some can be persuaded. Besides, it is fun to chew on the old bones of the wrong minded.

  3. Yes, Bethell is relativity denier and an HIV denier. He is a journalist, not a scientist. This is relevant as he attacks Dr. Nick Matzke, Ph.D., as a graduate student:

    Bethell: "Increasingly, it seems to me, the Darwinians are responding to this science by saying (in effect): "Bah! We won't read that! It's creationism in disguise." They get graduate students like Nick Matzke"

    Dr. Nick Matzke just got his Ph.D in science (unlike Bethell and unlike almost everyone who works for the Discovery Institute), and they know that-- they'll be calling him a grad. student forever.

    But Bethell is not even a grad. student. He has no Ph.D. in anything.

    It's hypocrisy for the IDiots call a Ph.D. in science a "grad student" and therefore dismiss them, when they don't have Ph.D.s in science.

    Let's look at their greatest intellects, their brightest minds.

    1. Dembski - Ph.Ds in Math and Philosophy; his math thesis was terrible and an embarrassment to the U. of Chicago.

    Dembski: "The work itself is immensely satisfying and intellectually stimulating. Moreover, I see those who seek to shut it down as intolerant dogmatists who encapsulate a tyranny that I despise. So I get to see myself as both a scientific researcher and as a freedom fighter—a rare combination.” – [An Interview with Dr. William A. Dembski.]

    2. Meyer - Ph.D. in philosophy.

    3. Casey Luskin- a lawyer who calls himself a "scientist"

    "As an attorney and scientist who observed the Dover intelligent design (ID) trial, I can testify that George Annas's account is incomplete" []

    Sal Cordova: "My friend Casey Luskin, an attorney and scientist at the Discovery Institute" []

    Luskin says the only reason why we don't call him a scientist and science expert can only be that we're biased: "Who are the experts? Well, I’m an evangelical Christian and I hold two degrees in earth sciences from UC San Diego where I studied evolution, including the fossil record, extensively at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. If I was a neo-Darwinian evolutionist, you'd probably call me an 'expert.'" []

    Yep, that's the only reason we don't consider you an expert.

    4. Berlinski- Ph.D. in philosophy; although Berlinski's books and articles, and the Discovery Institute, claim that he had a Ph.D. in math.

    Berlinski: "I have a Ph.D. in PHILOSOPHY from Princeton University. I have never claimed otherwise; my resume does not claim otherwise; my eleven published books do not claim otherwise; my twenty or so published essays do not claim otherwise... and the DI does not claim otherwise either. [Berlinski, March 3, 2007,]

    Au contraire, Berlinski's books and articles and the Discovery Institute claim he has a Ph.D. in math. See here: and here: ARN is controlled by the DI.

    5. John Oller- former English professor and creationist who promotes Wakefield's vaccines-cause-autism fraud, and calls himself a "linguist".

    6. Granville Sewell - mathematician who expounds most stupidly on how the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes evolution impossible. Shook down a science journal for $10,000 when they refused to publish his self-plagiarized creationist speculation.

    To be continued...

    1. Continuing with IDiots who claim they're scientists:

      7. Joseph Gallien, UD's greatest intellect.

      Query to Joe:"'What experiments have you done?'

      Joe G: Many dealing with ion trap mobilty spectrometry & mass spectrometry. Many more dealing with electronic circuitry and electricity.

      I can't get specific as it deals with security. If you can get a security clearance I could show you what I do.

      Then there is astronomy. On any given night I can have 3 telescopes pointing skyward. 2 4,5" aps with a 910mm FL(one automated and one manual) as well as a 10" ap with an 1125mm FL.

      And that is just the tip of the ole iceberg.

      That doesn't count the experiments I conduct in my basement. Some labs would be jealous of the equipment I house & use there.

      For example I now know that ticks are more attracted to watermelon rinds then they are to orange peels or orange slices. I also know that dragonflies play.
      " [Joe G reveals his top secret scientific research at ARN]

      8. Caroline Crocker- alleged martyr in the movie "Expelled", Ph.D. in pharmacology. Claimed in her lecture of "Evidence For and Against Evolution" that there's only one specimen of Archaeopteryx and it's a fake, and a hyrax is the same as a hyracotherium [Eohippus/horse transitional; totally different animal] and hyracotherium was found in the same strata as the modern horse.

      9. John H. Calvert, lawyer who calls himself a geologist. []

      Meanwhile they're so lawyered up, they've got more lawyers than scientists: besides Casey Luskin, they have Phillip Johnson, Discovery Institute lawyer Joshua Youngkin, Barry Arrington [moderator of Uncommon Descent and Michele Bachmann's ethically challenged accountant], Ben Stein, Ann Coulter, Andy Schlafly, Edward Sisson [see: The Measure of Design, Touchstone, v. 17, issue 6, July/Aug. 2004,] and John H. Calvert, J.D.

    2. I plead guilty to outing Berlinski in the thread on Jason Rosenhouse's blog linked to in Diogenes' item 4 above (comments 3, 10 and 29 in particular).

    3. If you're SLC then you get the credit for outing Berlinski on that thread.

      In Young Earth creationism, there are an even larger number of fake science degrees.

    4. Re Diogenes

      I am, indeed, SLC which I dropped when I opened a Google account which I use when commenting on this blog and some others, in favor of colnago80.

    5. I just started reading Scott McCrea's The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question, and it turns out that Bethell also denies that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays and poems, preferring the hypothesis that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote them using Shakespeare as a front. This might not mean much to most people here, but it's the literary equivalent of creationism, complete with calls for "equal time" despite the fact that the anti-Stratfordians have yet to convince the majority of academics that they even have an interesting hypothesis. So add Oxfordian to his list of dubious attributes. It's a wonder that he has room for so many irrational notions to coexist in so small a brain.

  4. Tom Bethell, 2006: “I think that there has been a change, and it’s maybe comparable to what’s happened in education is happening in science… The teachers and the teachers’ unions have learned to sort of game the system, and I think that we’re seeing maybe a gaming of the whole system by government science now, where they, you know it’s the cushy life for science and the pressure for them to come up with something is not that great.” [Talk of the Nation, NPR, Jun. 16, 2006,]

    Bethell is not a scientist and has never written a research grant in his life.

    In the US at this time, the approval rate for NIH grants is about 8 percent. So you write a 25-page grant application, and in it you describe how you've already done two-thirds of the work you ask to get paid for. The odds of your getting a grant is 8 percent, so you have to do that 13 times, on average, before you will get a grant.

    This is what pompous non-scientist Bethell calls "the cushy life."

    These people hate scientists. Not "Darwinists." They hate scientists and they lie about science.

    1. "The odds of your getting a grant is 8 percent, so you have to do that 13 times, on average, before you will get a grant."

      And that's just for those who actually obtain an academic job after their PdD's and numerous postdocs, by which time they are pushing 35 with no other skills, having been existing on poverty level salaries. And let's hope that they do get a grant on the 13th try, otherwise they don't get tenure and are now pushing 45 with no other skills, etc. etc.

  5. Here is Tom Bethell denying SPECIAL relativity at: [“Can We Do Without Relativity?” Tom Bethell. American Spectator, Sept. 2009]

  6. Here is Bethell denying that HIV causes AIDS:

    Science. 1995 Feb 17;267(5200):945-6. AIDS proposal. Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis. Baumann E, Bethell T, Bialy H, Duesberg PH, Farber C, Geshekter CL, Johnson PE, Maver RW, Schoch R, Stewart GT, et al.

  7. Here is Bethell saying that Darwinism is already dead-- indeed, long-dead-- as of 1976:

    Bethell, 1976: “It is surprising that so little word of it [the debate] has leaked out, because it seems to have been one of the most important academic debates of the 1960’s, and as I see it the conclusion is pretty staggering: Darwin's theory, I believe, is on the verge of collapse.

    ...Darwin’s idea of natural selection was quietly abandoned, even by his most ardent supporters, some years ago.
    ” – [Bethell, Tom, DARWIN'S MISTAKE, Harper's, 252:1509 (Feb.1976) p.70. Cited and rebutted by Stephen Jay Gould, here:]

    That was 37 years ago.

  8. Here is Bethell saying that virtually every kind of pollution is good for you in small doses: PCB's, mercury, lead, dioxin, etc. He compares arsenic to scotch on the rocks:

    Bethell: “In each of these cases [pollution], the substance in question has been shown to have beneficial effects at low levels of exposure… Something is wrong here. Society is going to great trouble and expense to clean up substances that may actually be beneficial at the low-dose levels encountered. Maybe it’s time to pay attention to chemical hormesis, even if the EPA doesn’t approve. We could save ourselves a lot of time and money.

    The evidence for chemical hormesis is now so strong that it is hardly disuputed. It is downplayed, to be sure, but it is undeniable.

    The scientist who has done more than any other to revive interest in hormesis in Edward Calabrese of the University of Massachusettes, Amhert…All he has to deal with are people who are anxious about mercury, lead, cadmium, dioxin, PCB’s…did I mention arsenic? It’s a tonic in small doses. Just don’t take too much. The same goes for scotch on the rocks.

    [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 57-58]

  9. Here is Tom Bethell dismissing all genome projects, indeed all genomics, as a waste of time and money, or as Bethell calls it, "mindless data":

    Tom Bethell: “The mouse genome was sequenced, the rat genome, the fruit fly genome, the chimpanzee genome, the puffer fish, the roundworm, baker’s yeast. But not much came of it. The computers just kept churning out their mindless data. The human gene total fell below 30,000. By 2003 we had reached “mustard weed levels” [in number of genes] and were “flirting with fruit fly territory”, Wall Street Journal columnist Sharon Begley wrote.”

    [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 161]

    It's mindless data because the number of human genes is comparable to fruit flies and mustard weed, and that deflates Bethell's giant ego. So that means genomics and genetics as a whole are worthless and must be thrown out.

    1. Of course Bethall poo poos genomics and genetics because that produces some of the strongest evidence for common descent. See the attached link to a portion of a lecture by Ken Miller pointing out the fusion of ape chromosomes 12 and 13 to form human chromosome 2. What do the Idiots blather on about, they claim that the structures in the middle of human chromosome 2 aren't telomeres.

  10. Here is Tom Bethell lying about what Darwin wrote in the Origin of Species (did he even read it?):

    Bethell: "In On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin relied on sketches that turned out to be doctored. [Haeckel’s]” [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 215]

    The Origin was published in 1859. Haeckel hadn't even drawn any sketches in 1859, IDiot.

    1. Bethell: “Darwin thought “by far the strongest single class of facts” in favor of his theory came from embryology. He relied on German biologist Ernst Haeckel, whose drawings of embryos from various classes of vertebrates showed them to be virtually identical in their earliest stages." [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 226]


      "Yet some version of Haeckel’s fake drawings could be found in most current biology textbooks when Wells’s book came out (and possibly still can today.) [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 226]

      Also bullshit. I went to the library and looked up a bunch of the textbooks about which accusations were made-- either the embryo drawings weren't Haeckel's, or if they were Haeckel's, they were included for historical reasons and the text clarified that Haeckel was partially wrong.

      These IDiots have no grounds to criticize "errors" in textbooks when every one of their arguments is piled on bullshit.

    2. Someone needs to write 'An Idiot's Guide to Idiots' Guides' pointing out the major errors they contain.

  11. Here is Bethell denying there is a tree of life:

    Bethell: [Ernst] Mayr’s argument implied that we possess a family tree of interconnecting species—something equivalent to an enormous chart on the wall covering millions of years and enabling us to look up common ancestors at will. But we have no such chart. All we have are bones scattered in the mud." [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 220-1]

    Hey IDiot: check this out.

    Note that the IDiot calls fossils "bones scattered in the mud." Fossils aren't found in the mud, IDiot. If they were, being a paleontologist would be 100 times easier. They're usually in a matrix that's as hard as cement and have to be extracted by scraping with a file, rubbing off one grain at a time.

    If the fossil record was a problem for evolution, and supported design, why would they try to dismiss all fossils on the grounds that they're muddy?

  12. Here is Bethell on the structure of the octopus eye-- citing as his authority... Jonathan Wells:

    Bethell: "The problem with arguing that similarity of structure is evidence for evolution is this: there are some remarkable similarities of structure that not even Darwinian biologists attribute to common descent. “The structure of an octopus eye is remarkably similar to the structure of a human eye,” Jonathan Wells wrote, “yet biologists do not think that the common ancestor of octopuses and humans possessed such an eye.”"

    [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 222]

    1. Apparently Bethell has never heard of convergent evolution.

    2. Bethell insists that any homologies, any similarities at all, are "just guessing" and can never support evolution.

      Here he quotes his authority, Jonathan Wells.

      Bethell writes: "'Even if the fossil record were complete, and it preserved all the desired characters, it would not establish that homology is due to common ancestry,' he [Wells] wrote in Icons of Evolution." [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 225]

      Bethell: "Even when there is a congruent pattern of similarities in different groups, as in the forelimbs of bat, porpoises, and human, and biologists attribute that similarity to common descent, they are guessing. Not only do we not posses the unbroken chain of fossils leading back to that shared ancestor, but we hardly have any links in the chain. That is why [Colin] Patterson said that “statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable to the fossil record.”[Letter from Colin Patterson to Luther Sunderland, April 10, 1979.] [Tom Bethell, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science", Regnery, 2005, p. 222]

      Anyone familiar with the Colin Patterson quote mine, debunked at TalkOrigins, knows that his statement had nothing to do with the creationist claim "we hardly have any links in the chain."

  13. There are more characters to add to the list. Not all are w/o some credentials, although it is telling that most are uneducated in science. First to come to mind is of course Michael Behe. PhD in biochemistry, now professor at Lehigh U., Pennsylvania. Advocate of ID, senior fellow of the Discovery Inst., author of several popular ID books. So even someone with a sheepskin can be fooled.

    1. We might add Prof. Scott Minnich of the Un. of Idaho who also testified at the Dover trial.

    2. I agree that some IDers have real science Ph.D.'s, including Behe and Jonathan Wells, who have Ph.D.s in real science. If you throw in Minnich and a few others, you might get a half dozen real science Ph.Ds.

      They're outnumbered by lawyers, philosophers, engineers, a surgeon, and lots of con men.

  14. The fact that they don't know what evidence is happens to be why they resort to analogy and gauzy "connections" between an unseen "cause" and just about any "effect" they wish to attribute to that "cause."

    In fact, that's the biggest giveaway that they're religious (if anyone had doubt, though I don't know why anyone would), their "evidence" is basically the same as used in sermons and in apologetic writing, poor analogies and gee-whiz "facts" that make the gullible say "it must have been God."

    It's true that there's no reciprocity in this matter, since we're supposed to explain everything over hundreds of millions, or billions, of years, while they just get to say that it was God's miracle. In their minds, though, that is actually fair, because science does require detail, their flim-flam doesn't and it isn't supposed to. Think of Dembski's famous statement that he doesn't even need to match our "pathetic level of detail," since it's not "materialism" he's proposing.

    Implicit in this double standard is the fact that they aren't doing science and think that they shouldn't have to. They just have to match the level of "evidence" existing in their religion, and that is what we should accept as "non-materialist science." It's the demand for evidence that they're really attacking as unfair throughout their pathetic apologetics, for ID works well enough according to religious standards (not at all, in the real world), but science doesn't have all of the answers itself.

    Their viewpoint makes sense if you think of them judging ID according to religious standards, and science according to scientific standards. The fact that they distort the science to stack the deck even further is neither better nor worse than the double standard that they implicitly use for ID and for science.

    Glen Davidson

    1. Yes. Their addiction to bizarre analogies (like "tornado in a junkyard") is a vestige of Christian apologetics, and perfectly appropriate in a Church sermon, but proves nothing in science.

      This especially affects Michael Behe. His analogies ("this set of molecules is like a space probe", "Joe Thornton's experiments are like a crane that can't lift a peanut") are absolutely insufferable. I find his writing very frustrating, and misleading.

  15. It is easy to recognize evidence. Does it support your pre-conceived notions? Then it is evidence!

    Similarly, things that support your opponents view are definitely not evidence.

  16. Did right-wing journalist Bethell really just call someone else incompetent?