Jun 19 2014

New Creationist Documentary – Same Old Nonsense

Creation.com, the authors of “15 questions for ‘evolutionists’ that they have already answered but we are going to continue to ignore those answers,” has recently release a trailer for their new movie where they apparently found 15 PhDs who are willing to embarrass themselves by documenting their scientific illiteracy. The film is “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels,” and if the trailer is any indication, it is just a repackaging of the same creationist lies that have been exposed for decades.

The trailer starts out with the claim, “Most evolutionists have never critically examined their own position.” That is, if you don’t count the last 150 years of scientific examination, thousands of published peer-reviewed papers, and dozens of popular books carefully (what’s that word?) examining the evidence for evolution. We can add to that now the countless websites and blog posts critically examining every question creationists endlessly raise. Seriously, such a claim is either a bald-faced lie, or evidence of profound intellectual laziness.

The next series of “Achilles’ Heel” shockers is based on a misunderstanding of biology, genetics, and evolution. The voice on the trailer claims that mutation and natural selection “work in the wrong direction,” and so “how does evolution work?”

You can see where they are going with this. In their 15 questions propaganda, #3 states that mutations cannot add specific information, because mutations “degrade” information. Then #4 repeats the canard that natural selection only removes unfit genetics from the population, and does not add anything.

It states:

Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful. But how can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible?

These statements represent a fundamental misunderstanding of biology and genetics. The notion that mutations degrade the information in DNA, are inherently harmful, or that they “scramble” DNA is all nonsense. It assumes that one configuration of DNA is inherently better than another, or that there is a “correct” sequence for any gene – mutations can only “degrade” this information.

The truth is that the DNA sequence of any organism is already a complicated mess, because it evolved from the bottom up, and was not designed from the top down. Everything is a mutation – mutations are just change, they don’t inherently “degrade.” Most mutations have little or no effect – they don’t change the amino acid sequence, or they change one amino acid to another similar amino acid that has little or no effect on the protein structure or function. When mutations do change the function of a protein, it can be neutral, harmful, beneficial, or have mixed results with some benefits and some detriments. Benefit and harm, however, often need to be viewed in the context of the organism and their current environment and survival strategies.

They actually use the word “devolving” – there’s no such thing. All such change over time is evolution. The concept of “devolving” implies that there is a preferred direction to evolutionary change. There isn’t. Again – all the creationists document is their own ignorance of the science they presume to criticize.

They repeat the fallacy of looking at only a subset of the mechanism for evolution at any one time. They claim that mutations are blind and random, and natural selection only removes information from the gene pool. This is like saying that a car cannot work because the steering wheel cannot propel the car, and the engine cannot steer it.

Mutations demonstrably increase the amount and variety of information in a population’s genome. Natural selection is the non-random survival of those with traits that confer a survival advantage in the current environment. Numerous independent lines of evidence have clearly established these mechanisms for evolution, but creationists continue their endless strategy of denial.

Next we hear that even if every molecule in the universe were an experiment over billions of years it could never form a single protein, let alone all of life. This is the old tornado in a junkyard argument. They just never let go of an argument, no matter how often it is obliterated. This, of course, is a strawman. No scientist argues that a specific complex protein assembled entirely by chance. Proteins evolved – natural selection is a non-random cumulative process.

Also, this is a bit of the lottery fallacy – what’s the chance of this protein arising by chance? The real question is – what is the chance that some protein, any protein, occurred by chance? Since amino acids form spontaneously, and then spontaneously form into polypeptides and proteins, I would say the chance is 100%, given the right conditions.

For some reason they throw in cosmology, the inflationary model of the Big Bang. That is just a transparent god-of-the-gaps type argument. Look, scientists don’t understand everything about the universe, therefore magic. But look how far they have to go, now, to find their gaps. Sure, we haven’t yet sorted out exactly everything that happened and why 13.7 billion years ago during the first nanoseconds of the Big Bang. What do scientists know?

Then, of course, they move onto the fossil record. Their summary of the “big picture” of the fossil record is “sudden appearance” and lack of transitional forms. Wow. I know I have been doing this for a long time, but this one never ceases to amaze me, because it is a direct contradiction of hard facts. The fossils are physical objects that exist, you can go to the museum and see them for yourself.

I have written about this one numerous times before – the big picture of the fossil record is change over time, with species occurring, existing for a while, then disappearing.  Moreover, the appearance of new fossil species is not random, but occurs in a pattern that is always consistent with evolution. They are derived from previous ancestors. They occur in a time and place that is compatible with the evolution of life on earth. Scientists have even predicted when and where certain fossils should be found, and then found them. There are countless transitional forms.

They take a swipe at radiometric dating methods, mentioning the few exceptions of radioactive isotopes that have variable decay rates. They don’t mention that these are not the radioisotopes that are used for dating.


The trailer for this “documentary” is a Gish Gallop of tired old creationist claims amounting to blatant deception and science denial. Yet creationists marvel at why they can’t get any respect among scientists and within academia. I suspect it is a combination of motivated reasoning and the Dunning-Kruger effect – they are simply too ignorant of science generally, critical thinking, and biology and evolutionary theory specifically to even assess their own level of ignorance.

In order to maintain their level of ignorance, however, would require a profound level of intellectual laziness and/or sloppiness, and this is where the motivated reasoning comes in.

The answers they seek are out there. If they had genuine intellectual curiosity and honesty, they could easily see for themselves that the pattern of fossils in the fossil record is a home-run for evolution. People have even taken the time to specifically address their claims, point out their logical fallacies, and link to the very evidence they say does not exist.

This is further evidence that creationists are not genuinely engaging with their critics or the scientific community. This lack of engagement is a hallmark of the pseudoscientist or denier.

60 responses so far

60 Responses to “New Creationist Documentary – Same Old Nonsense”

  1. BillyJoe7on 19 Jun 2014 at 9:48 am

    “The fossils are physical objects that exist, you can go to the museum and see them for yourself”

    The above quote reminded me of this video of Richard Dawkins interviewing creationist Wendy Wrong:

  2. nybgruson 19 Jun 2014 at 10:45 am

    You know what is funny BJ? All I had to read was “video of Richard Dawkins” and I knew exactly what you would be referring to.

    Anyways… PandasThumb has an excellent series (4 parts so far) called “Understanding creationism:
    An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist” by David MacMillan. It is actually very insightful and telling and provides additional specific reasons why and how creationists go on with the discredited tropes they so love. And it is actually not because they stick their fingers in their ears and scream “la la la la la la!” at the top of their lungs.

    If you haven’t already I think you would find it an interesting read Dr. Novella, including specific answers to the “no transitional fossils” thing (not terribly long, even for all 4 parts).

    Part I
    Part II
    Part III
    Part IV

  3. DanDanNoodleson 19 Jun 2014 at 10:48 am

    The original trailer is chock full of more howlers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TCtmoyBaI

    At about 2:15, one of the “15 Ph.Ds” (wow, that many?) discusses the “moral implications” of evolution, saying if evolution is true that we are “bags of rearranged pond scum” — and while he is saying this, ominous music plays, and they pan over a grainy picture of bodies in a mass grave presided over by armed men. Yes, Godwin’s Law is alive and well. He then goes on to claim that evolution implies that murder is meaningless.

    I laughed out loud several times during the trailer — most particularly, during the CGI rendition of Noah’s Ark, which at first I mistook for a floating coffin — but using the Holocaust photo was really beyond the pale.

  4. SteveAon 19 Jun 2014 at 12:38 pm

    “They just never let go of an argument, no matter how often it is obliterated.”

    Proving they have nothing new to say. Tired old dusty ideas gradually withering away…

    If you think how far the ‘Superpower’ of religion has fallen in the last three hundred years, I’d guess that the few remaining creationists will be in Amish territory within another fifty. Marginalised and irrelevant. We just have to keep plugging away and challenge their nonsense wherever it pops up. Even rubber duckies don’t last forever.

  5. steve12on 19 Jun 2014 at 12:43 pm

    “In order to maintain their level of ignorance, however, would require a profound level of intellectual laziness and/or sloppiness, and this is where the motivated reasoning comes in.”

    To wit – one of the 15 PhD’s bio:

    The first sentence is the best:
    “Dr Carter was converted to Christ at an early age, but did not know what to do with the theory of evolution. He always knew what he wanted to believe, but had no way to express what he was thinking and no evidence to support his views. “

  6. steve12on 19 Jun 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Most of their 15 PhD’s work for Creation Ministries International, i.e., the maker of the film.

  7. The Other John Mcon 19 Jun 2014 at 1:51 pm

    nybrus, thanks so much for those links — that is super-interesting

  8. GrgLstron 19 Jun 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Oh great, more Steves agreeing with Eviloution.

    More power to you, Dr. Novella for being able to watch that entire trailer (let alone dissect it). Its cringingly awful.

  9. Willyon 19 Jun 2014 at 3:57 pm

    The following appeared as a letter to the editor in our local paper. It as, I think, a reaction to a letter of mine in which, rather than point out errors in a previous letter, I chose instead to demonstrate that the Bible was not inerrant. My example was the conflict in the resurrection stories at the end of the “gospels”. I do hope local creationists listen to the below writer and stop sending in letters attacking evolution. Anyway, enjoy the thoughts of a true believer:

    I subscribe to the paper primarily to see what events are happening around town, particularly in the community of faith, so that I might attend and worship Jesus Christ that we can exalt His name together.
    Over the years, I have noticed many letters in the “out of your mind” column wherein various writers try to malign the Lord and His inerrant Holy Word through the foolish rantings and ravings of their so called “enlightened minds.”
    God is certainly not interested in how intelligent these folks think they are because wisdom only comes from God and those who consider themselves to be their own god through their vain and proud boastings are people of perdition who have no place in heaven. Let us not be concerned with the “raging of the heathen and their vain babblings whereby the attempt to justify their own sinfulness through their darkened and unenlightened minds, setting themselves up as their own god.”
    Rather, let us take a page from our sisters in the faith and love the Lord with all of our being, and our neighbor as ourselves. Have you ever noticed that the women of faith in our community don’t concern themselves with arguing with pagans. I can’t recall ever seeing a letter in the Herald from a Christian woman feeling a need to defend the faith against the foolish and hardened hearts of those destined for perdition; instead they go on in steadfast love of the Lord and for our neighbors through intercessory prayer and good works. This is the wise choice.
    “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” so I urge my brothers in the faith to not argue with fools; God can take care of these nay-sayers without our help. Instead, let us go forth with joy and thanksgiving in grateful humility for all that Jesus Christ has done for us while we glorify Him as we allow His love to flow through us to help and encourage those whose hearts are not hardened against God.

  10. jsterritton 19 Jun 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I think it’s willful laziness, pure and simple. Errors, misstatements, and outright lies don’t have to sound plausible to convince the already convinced. Just make it loud and familiar and self-righteous (what Paul Ginnetty called, “the potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity”). The stultifying incuriosity of the anti-evolution crowd is what allows these same absurd tropes to appear perennially, as if they were fresh, new “gotcha” revelations. The pot gets stirred, the media gets a sideshow, hackles go up, the base gets riled, the money rushes in, and another “documentary” gets made. Media and politicians help gin up controversy where there is none — a victory for the goofballs every time. Sigh.

  11. Willyon 19 Jun 2014 at 4:41 pm

    BiilyJoe7–Thanks for the Wendy Wright clip. I was unaware of it. Astonishing display of…???

  12. Sylakon 19 Jun 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Wow, this is not much better than that geocentrism movies trailer we saw not so long ago.

    Why do they have so much difficulty accepting facts? They could still believe in god: god could have made the big bang happen, or god could have being create at the same time as the universe. Why do they obsess with following the bible to the letters. It was written by human being, They them self say we are not perfect.
    I’m a atheist, so I don’t know, but How hard it is, you don’t have to become atheist, In fact the universe is vast, complex, fascinating and maybe infinite, if a god create a universe, I’m pretty sure that’s the way he would have done it.

  13. tmac57on 19 Jun 2014 at 7:51 pm


    (what Paul Ginnetty called, “the potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity”).

    A very pithy quote,and right on the mark. Never heard that one before,so thanks!

  14. tmac57on 19 Jun 2014 at 8:17 pm

    BillyJoe7- Well,I got through part 1,but my head was about to explode,so I guess I need to wait a day to try to watch part 2.
    Why does my mind keep flashing back to scenes from ‘The Stepford Wives’?

  15. Willyon 19 Jun 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I couldn’t finish the Wendy clip, either. Made about 20 minutes. Maybe in the days to come.

    Dawkins: What about homo habilis, homo…
    Wendy: Show me physical proof, not drawings in a book…
    D: Homo…are physical proof.
    W: Show me physical proof…And besides, Darwin is to blame for Hitler, eugenics, …

    I just wish we could point to some strife, somewhere, at some time in history resulting from religious discord…:«)

    Drivel. Dawkins deserves sainthood, er, something, for not strangling her. Same vapid smile as Michele Bachman.

  16. JRockon 19 Jun 2014 at 11:08 pm

    dr. steve,

    you do an excellent impression of a 7th grade biology text.

    following their reasoning was like watching a meandering toddler who keeps bumping into things. it will go on… if you let it.

    but at least they had the decency to use the most up to date information on the subject.

    speaking of, Watson and crick are releasing a new study sometime later this year.

  17. grabulaon 20 Jun 2014 at 2:13 am

    I swear I heard Wendy Wright say ” the ad hominid attacks…” in the first 6 minutes of that interview lol.

  18. mumadaddon 20 Jun 2014 at 6:04 am

    Wendy Wright is a buffoon of the highest order.

    It seems creationism is now getting a foot in the door in the UK too. It’s a direct US import – an American private organisation called ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) are now running schools where creationism is taught in science classes. It’s the exact same schtick as some of the US bible belt school boards have pulled – ‘teach the controversy/evolution is just a theory, here’s the other theory’, except that there’s no legal recourse against this as they are privately funded. They’ve even gone as far as to replace the standard secondary education certification (GCSEs, equivalent to GED) with their own qualification.

    It’s absurd to bastardise science like this. What is the scientific theory of creation? Where is the scientific evidence for this theory?


  19. Willyon 20 Jun 2014 at 11:56 am

    Another “remarkable” piece from my local paper:

    (Letter Writer X…) shows deception and ignorance of scriptures especially concerning the great flood. Only land, air-breathing animals perished. That left plenty of seafood (Genesis 7:11). Most of the water came not from rain but from underground fountains (Genesis 7:11). The mountains were pushed up during and after the flood as evidenced by sea fossils on top of the highest mountains today. God was not displeased with the creation but with man and his wicked heart which is still a problem today. God does not make mistakes.

    Now, tell me, what can one do to have a conversation with people like that?

  20. Jimboon 20 Jun 2014 at 2:05 pm

    BillyJoe7: or this one, from a much more notable source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTOla3TyfqQ Dawkin’s.. pish!

  21. BruceTon 20 Jun 2014 at 3:01 pm

    What I don’t understand in this article is the tone. Are we just talking to ourselves (skeptic community, or like minded) about how “dumb” the other side is? Yes, scientific evidence tends to support evolution. However, scientific proof is not possible, so we are all discussing the most likely explanation. I don’t think it’s helpful to deride those that disagree for disagreeing. If their foundations are flawed, point it out, and get on with it. Putting down the opposing side does not make your side more correct.

    Do we want to advance the best possible information, or do we want to just make fun of those that disagree. For those that want to do the latter, please just go back to 6th grade, and leave scientific discussion to the adults. Until you can disagree with someone, and still talk respectfully to them, you cannot communicate with them. Or is this meant to just be the science branch of FOX news – echochamber where the other side is berated rather than informed…

  22. a_haworthrobertson 20 Jun 2014 at 7:11 pm

    My latest two posts here may be of interest (the first was written before the above blog post appeared):

  23. Willyon 20 Jun 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I made it through the entire Wendy Wright–I deserve a prize! 🙂

    She did say “ad hominid” and, I’m pretty sure, “critical factories” (thinking processes).

    How she conducted herself and how she responded is key to why we will never be able to communicate with creationists. In addition to Wendy’s comments, reread the two letters to the editor that I posted earlier (above). They all KNOW that god did it–the bible says so–AND they KNOW that we have evil motives. It isn’t about facts, it’s about their perception that we are, I think literally in their minds, the devil trying to destroy “god’s work”..

    If you get to children young enough, you can convince many of them to believe almost anything.

    To quote our dear Wendy, there are “hard core evolutionists”. I guess that implies hard core gravitationalists. It’s hopeless.

  24. JRockon 21 Jun 2014 at 12:50 am

    you know what I think I’m into? just rolling up on someone in a position of esteem right in the middle of their new age, woo pedaling and tearing their carefully practiced, official looking dialogue into tiny little bits. yeah… then replacing every part of it with actual information. maybe pointing out every logical fallacy in order… and you know what makes me feel like a real badass? not using a single citation. citations are for real people. awww and then just standing there in the glorious ashes of it all. breathe it in! and I don’t care if anyone learns anything from it or even gives it a passing glance. I just want the blood lust! AWWWWWWWW!!!!! WOO SHALL NOT PASS!

    oooo you want an explanation don’t ya….. why’d he do it? no damn reason at all. I like it and I’m good at it… that’s right.. tears.

  25. Romanon 21 Jun 2014 at 8:46 am

    WilliamLawrenceUtridge in one of these medical blogs once recommended a book, Monkey Girl (http://www.amazon.com/Monkey-Girl-Edward-Humes-ebook/dp/B000OYEWJM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403352568&sr=1-1&keywords=monkey+girl), which I read with interest. It is a superlative account of the 2005 version of the Scopes monkey trial, this time set in Dover, PA. This latter trial was a slam-dunk resounding victory for science and education. Not that it makes any difference to the True Believer crowd: invincible ignorance will eternally be with us.

  26. grabulaon 21 Jun 2014 at 9:26 pm

    “How she conducted herself and how she responded is key to why we will never be able to communicate with creationists. ”

    Her smug giggling was too much. I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from slapping it out of her.

  27. Steven Novellaon 22 Jun 2014 at 7:37 am

    Jrock – you want to get specific? Ironically, you don’t mention any details, so I have no way of assessing the point you are trying to make. You honestly think they are using more up-to-date information than I did? Please defend that position.

    Bruce – I have to disagree. First, I never called anyone dumb. The closest I came to a personal attack was pointing out that being in a documentary in which one denies a major scientific discipline is embarrassing and betrays scientific illiteracy. Otherwise I simply deconstructed their poor logic and factual distortions.

    But no, this is not a respectful discussion. That would be giving the creationists far too much credit. They are not interested in a respectful scientific discussion. This documentary is a shameless piece of propaganda in which thy put forward arguments that have been demolished years or even decades ago. The intellectual dishonesty / laziness is profound and deserves to be ridiculed and marginalized.

  28. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2014 at 9:24 am


    I think Jrock amd BruceT want you to show respect to those who don’t deserve any respect. They want you to teach people who have shown that they are unable to be taught. They think they have the solution when there isn’t a solution to the wilful ignorance of creationists.
    Sarcastic humour is definitely the order of the day here.

    Jrock amd BruceT,

    There is no evidence that your strategy is a successful one in these circumstances, so you are talking out of your respective proverbials. I challenge both of you to spend an hour with Wendy Wright and prove your case. Should be hilarious.
    Oh, and sorry for the “tone”.

  29. Willyon 22 Jun 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Another example from our local newspaper this morning. It’s a letter to the editor again-e’re on a roll, I guess. Enjoy today’s lesson in creation science:

    More bad news for evolutionists. Radiometric dating of the geologic column is unreliable. In fact, it is so conflicting in its results, that, out of hundreds of thousands of tests,—only three test results have agreed sufficiently with evolutionary theory to be uses as “norm”. Each of these, of course, could only to a single stratum. Out of tens of thousands of test only three radioactive samples have been found to be near enough to rock strata age theories to be useable, –and two of them are just interpolated guesses based on “strata thickness.” Is this science or what? Why is radiometric dating so unreliable? In order for a radioactive clock to be usable, it has to run without variation. But careful research of radiohalos do not show constant decay rates. Just one major catastrophe–such as a worldwide flood–would have ruined the usefulness of all our radiodating clocks. This would result from contamination, radioactive and magnetic changes, and reversals of earth’s magnetic core. The millions and billions of fossils buried in layers and layers of strata worldwide give ample evidence of the Great Flood. Animals only become fossils when after they are buried by water and mud. For more information go to evolution-facts.org.

  30. Çağrı Yalgınon 22 Jun 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Just recently Michael Cox Lab showed very convincingly that Escherischia coli can gain resistance to even ionizing radiation, with only three mutations in their DNA repair genes. And we still get the same nonsense about the effects of mutations.

    (Here is the paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01322, and I covered it in Turkish here: http://www.acikbilim.com/2014/05/guncel/bir-radyoaktivite-kalkani-kolay-evriliyor.html)

  31. M_Morganon 22 Jun 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Dr Novella, you still haven’t read my free work at http://sdrv.ms/1a4HBbk or you would realize how ignorant your post is. I am not a spiritualist at all, but you are failing to grasp legitimate problems with Natural selection. First, consider what DNA is constructing in the first place after it has mutated, and then whether it can survive in an environment, which it must inevitably do to grow and live to reproduce. You are completely ignorant of the initial steps by which DNA can construct anything in an environment – which is by using the environmental chemicals in the immediate proximity of its cellular membrane. Biologists are completely tied up in the mechanisms of DNA linked to protein production and ignore the cells constructed by DNA using its mechanisms and proteins. What are those cells? They are embodiments of non-living chemical capacities in the environment surrounding the membrane!

    See, Dr Novella, while you and the various vultures here supporting you like to pick over the bones of extremist spiritualist nonsense, the shocking ignorance of science goes unchecked. Fred Hoyle is no fool, and the statistics for “random” mutation of a specific 3 billion human genome sequence, even if tested in each generation for survival in the environment, and even after 3 billion years, is a big problem. 30 point mutations per person per generation, including the deleterious, to create a “random” sequence (even though selected in each generation). Do the math. Mutation is unlikely to be random, and if you see what DNA is constructing using environmental chemicals – gasses (lungs), liquids (heart), solids (gut), ions (nervous system), and so on, and you can see exactly what DNA uses to construct cells and how it uses those capacities for a well-structured anatomy on earth’s surface. Do some reading on Epigenetics.

    Dr Novella, your stubbornness impedes your ability to usefully progress. Selection is a narrative about what has survived in an environment, making obvious connections to what enables it to grow and reproduce. Look instead to what DNA CAN construct in the first place using environmental chemicals, and THEN its continuation by growth and reproduction in an environment supporting it. You are back to front Dr Novella, as is evolution theory generally. You might then find, if you get around to reading my work, that our chemical structure LITERALY embodies the range of non-living chemical capacities on earth that DNA uses for construction. Mutation is unlikely to be “random” according to recent Epigenetic thinking. Instead DNA branches out to use more and different environmental chemicals as it mutates, and quite possibly in knowable Convergent patterns – marsupial and placental with the same dog, cat, bear, and rat structures, for example. You need all the help you can get Dr Novella, as you are not cut out for the task of discovery judging by your tendency to be mired refuting spiritualist nonsense.

  32. bgoudieon 22 Jun 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I’m kind of in awe at the dada-esque word dump of that post M-Morgan. You may have missed your calling in life.

  33. Ekkoon 23 Jun 2014 at 12:49 am

    Yep – some classic M_Morgan there. When you try to break through the weeds of dense verbosity though all you get is some kind of argument from incredulity to do with mutation being random.

  34. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2014 at 1:10 am


    The problem is that you still don’t know what evolutionary biologists mean by the word “random” in relation to mutation. I tried to help you last time by asking if you knew what they mean, after which I was going to correct you as an educational experience. Unfortunately, you fobbed me off and, as a result, you remain as ignorant as ever about the meaning of that word.

    Oh well….

  35. JRockon 23 Jun 2014 at 1:18 am

    @steve novella

    “Jrock – you want to get specific? Ironically, you don’t mention any details, so I have no way of assessing the point you are trying to make. You honestly think they are using more up-to-date information than I did? Please defend that position.”


    I was implying the answers to their questions about dna and evolution can be easily addressed by current scholastic literature and that you do a good job of representing it. also that the information their attacking is older and may not contain all the nuance of our current understandings of it.

    I was presenting the character of a psychopath on the hunt for victims because damn it, the proper way to refute these guys gets in the way of all the fun. sometimes just doing a random “drive by” on pages like “the mind unleashed” is satisfying and not worth the total effort of a serious attempt to debunk them. forgive me, I find the notion of a dangerous vigilante of skepticism romantic.

  36. jsterritton 23 Jun 2014 at 1:25 am

    Wow. M_Morgan has indeed written a book (of sorts) that authoritatively explains everything. I mean: EVERYTHING. It’s crazy and very much worth a look. He writes with a scary authority, like his is a definitive text — or like it was handed down from the mountaintop. It’s full of nonsense. There’s a kind of anti-gravity that he calls “levity” that, along with gravity — reconciled entirely with the weak, strong, and electromagnetic forces — informs everything from the interactions of elemental particles to the formation of complex systems like atoms and cells and solar systems and life. By insisting on an awful lot of givens, like the existence of gravitons and a kind of electrogravity-strong force, Morgan diagrams a reductionist caricature of Newton’s clockwork universe that also somehow explains (Darwin-demolishing) evolution of life on ours, and probably other, planets. Morgan’s rules of order apply to the planck scale (elementary particles), the microscopic (atoms), the macroscopic (biology), and the telescopic (the cosmos) equally. And equally, they seem informed by the scientific observation that Cheerios float in milk, all according to “the Design” of his book’s title.

    Morgan’s credentials are less than impressive: “The author’s scientific experience is in product liability litigation, but his scientific interests are extensive.” Priceless. Morgan remarks of his work: “The book is entirely original, and yet it fits nicely within a context of theories by Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Kant.” Kant?! He then manfully concedes that: “The book might be a missing manual for the organization of the facts of science.” No library is complete without it.

    I’ve stumbled across some staggering works of pseudoscience by zealous authors who had a “eureka” moment and felt they had to share (see “Particles of the Universe,” by Jeff Yee), but this takes the cake. The icing on that cake is the tone he dares to take with Dr Novella, and the rest of us, for not knowing what he knows. I mean…it’s so simple.

  37. JRockon 23 Jun 2014 at 2:29 am

    # BillyJoe7

    “Jrock amd BruceT,

    There is no evidence that your strategy is a successful one in these circumstances, so you are talking out of your respective proverbials. I challenge both of you to spend an hour with Wendy Wright and prove your case. Should be hilarious.
    Oh, and sorry for the “tone”.”

    sorry I realize this should have part of my previous post to reduce the number of comments.

    ohhhhhhh I’ve spent a few with miss wendy cringeworth mclipschitz. my tactic is not supposed to work. it supposed to feed the insatiable need to victimize in a serial killer. I mean uh… it just gets me so… excited…

  38. Mathiason 23 Jun 2014 at 5:39 am

    We should mind our own language. Even people who fully accept Darwinian evolution as a fact, sometimes use terms like “higher/further/more/less evolved than” when talking about different species. What they’re presumably talking about, are specific characteristics of organisms that are somewhat quantifiable, and comparing them in hindsight. Like for instance how energy efficient certain types of locomotion are in a given environment.
    The phrasing is unfortunate though, because it enforces the misconception of directionality in evolution. Homo sapiens as a species is not “more evolved” than homo erectus. This misunderstanding appears about as widespread as it is deep. Lots of people assume that on any habitable world, sooner or later a tool-using socially intelligent species will emerge. No… not necessarily. Like Dawkins pointed out: if only that one particular dinosaur didn’t have to sneeze, right when it was about to catch the little furry thing – we all wouldn’t be here today. The misconception of directionality in evolution opens a door for creationist BS, like “mutations degrade information” etc. We better avoid this type of language when talking about differences between species.

  39. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2014 at 7:13 am


    It seems I misunderstood your intent.
    Thanks for clarifying.
    But, unless you’re role playing here, I hope to never meet you in a blind alley.

  40. mumadaddon 23 Jun 2014 at 8:25 am


    Homo sapiens as a species is not “more evolved” than homo erectus.

    I’m going to be pedantic here (if I didn’t do it, somebody else would): technically, as homo erectus is extinct and homo erectus is extant, homo erectus is more evolved as the species has a longer line of evolutionary history behind it. But I agree with your general point – all extant species are equivalently evolved, and this kind of language can create a false impression.

  41. mumadaddon 23 Jun 2014 at 8:28 am

    technically, as homo erectus is extinct and homo erectus is extant, homo erectus is more evolved as the species has a longer line of evolutionary history behind it.

    Balls – homo sapiens is extant. That’ll teach me to be pedantic.

  42. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2014 at 8:48 am

    To be more pedantic still, the correct nomencalture is “Homo sapiens” and “Homo erectus”.

    (And “Homo eratticus” for Jethro tull fans,

  43. mumadaddon 23 Jun 2014 at 9:00 am

    Sod it, fully corrected below:


    Homo sapiens as a species is not “more evolved” than homo erectus.

    I’m going to be pedantic here (if I didn’t do it, somebody else would): technically, as Homo erectus is extinct and Homo sapiens is extant, homo sapiens is more evolved as the species has a longer line of evolutionary history behind it. But I agree with your general point – all extant species are equivalently evolved, and this kind of language can create a false impression.


    Actually, having thought about it, this kind of language could cause confusion above and beyond just implying a direction. Would it be fairer to say that a species that has undergone more change is more evolved? One with a higher number of genetic mutations over time? Or one that is better suited to it’s environment? More reproductively successful? Better to just avoid ‘more’ or ‘less’ evolved altogether.

  44. Willyon 23 Jun 2014 at 9:52 am

    My sincere apologies for my thoughtless rant last night. You were 100% correct to remove it. Thank you.

  45. Mathiason 23 Jun 2014 at 10:23 am

    “Would it be fairer to say that a species that has undergone more change is more evolved? One with a higher number of genetic mutations over time?”

    yeah, I think so… if you’re making clear what “more evolved” refers to exactly, then this might even be a good way to confront people with their false notions about direction in evolution.
    Let’s say a chimp’s genome has undergone more mutations in the last 7 million years or so, compared to the human genome (I’m not sure if this is actually the case). Then you could point out that, with regard to mutation rate and our last common ancestor, chimps are more evolved than humans. But I’m afraid that just saying “more evolved” without providing this kind of context will give people the wrong idea.

  46. grabulaon 23 Jun 2014 at 8:54 pm


    “M_Morgans shocking ignorance of science goes unchecked.”

    There Morgan, I fixed that comment for you.

  47. grabulaon 23 Jun 2014 at 9:00 pm


    “There’s a kind of anti-gravity that he calls “levity””

    I believe that’s the same levity that attracts penises to vaginas to some such nonsense. Either way Morgan has some history here. Typically he does quick drive by’s, he might be bothered to drop in a second time to spout more mumbo jumbo at us ‘vultures’.

    Keep in mind he claims to be a lawyer who’s specialty is translating techno babble to the people…even though we can’t get him to make any sense in his posts.

    Finally he admits to operating in a vacuum when it comes to science. He’s done all the footwork himself, with no help. As someone has pointed out (BJ7?) Morgan is our resident, bonafide crank.

  48. jsterritton 24 Jun 2014 at 9:58 am


    He’s pretty awesome.

  49. andHarryon 24 Aug 2014 at 5:29 pm

    A PhD who does not feature(I think) in this documentary writes – ‘The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory. In fact it is essentially indefensible. It’s apparent invincibility derives largely from bluster, smoke, and mirrors. A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith that the “true-believers” have in the omnipotence of natural selection. Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection is typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment which can only be described as religious. I started to realise (again with trepidation) that I might be offending the religion of a great number of people!‏’
    Read john Sanford’s brilliant book, ‘Genetic Entropy, and the mystery of the genome’ for an insight into why evolution fails. We are falling apart as mutations increase.

  50. InquiringThinkeron 19 Oct 2014 at 7:59 am

    A review of the 2 minute trailer isn’t really helpful. Why not review the content of the arguments in the book? Engaging the arguments not just soundbites is necessary, since many of us are trying to understand them ourselves. The content is already available.

    Let’s start with one of their arguments, which they term “Origin of Life”, which is not really evolutionary itself, since evolution begins with a self replicating cell. But part of their argument is that Origin of Life is required to have evolution. “How did the first self-replicating cell arise?” What do you think is a response to this?

  51. InquiringThinkeron 19 Oct 2014 at 8:05 am

    A lot of conclusions drawn in this comments section based on a pretty tiny amount of data. That is poor induction. Their soundbites are clearly intended to not give the full picture, because they want you to check the whole 96 min video out for themselves.

    Can anyone actually comment on the content of their arguments (not the one’s from the past, and not the soundbites of now).

    I really am not finding it easy to find strong responses on this!

  52. SteveWBon 31 Oct 2014 at 11:33 am

    I’d love to make an intelligent comment on this debate, but alas my scientific development ended with GCEs. What does disturb me – and I speak as a Christian who has very little confidence in US-based Creationism – is the surprisingly emotional tone of so many responses. The (often) excellent Tom Paine observed that ‘It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from enquiry.’ When I read allegedly ‘scientific’ comments that resound with more hysteria than reason, I am sorely tempted to suspect that there may yet be more mileage in this debate than the loyal cohorts of Professor Dawkins would have us believe.

  53. Steven Novellaon 31 Oct 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Steve – What you are detecting is often outrage. What happens is that creationists make outrageous statements that fly in the face of science, or sometimes are outright lies. This can be infuriating. Those with less experience might then respond with emotion. This in no way means there is something to debate.

  54. mumadaddon 31 Oct 2014 at 1:10 pm

    For me there’s nothing to debate. I can sympathise with a deist position, although it’s not my bag – I’m happy to just admit that the ultimate cause of the existence of reality is a mystery, and the gaps in our understanding don’t lend credibility to whatever ancient superstition or wild speculation we choose to insert. But when people of specific religious denominations try to argue that their scripture, or the specifics or their mythology, is factual, I cringe.

    It does elicit something of an emotional response from me, because clinging to superstitions without any evidence base feels like a major barrier to progress. It’s not just about the beliefs themselves, but how they inform our actions. If you’re going to have any so-called ‘facts’ underpinning your value system or how you interact with others in any way, in my opinion you have a duty of a certain amount of due diligence to establish those facts as credible.

    Having a of belief system that values faith above evidence is just backwards, and continues to get more backwards as we build an increasingly complete understanding of nature through science. No magic required.

  55. jsterritton 31 Oct 2014 at 1:38 pm

    “Having a belief system that values faith above evidence is just backwards, and continues to get more backwards as we build an increasingly complete understanding of nature through science. No magic required.”

    Excellently said, mumadadd.

  56. mumadaddon 31 Oct 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Why, thank you, jsterritt 🙂

  57. jsterritton 31 Oct 2014 at 2:28 pm

    @Steven Novella

    “What you are detecting is often outrage.”

    It happens with predictable reliability that even the most logical of us get backed into a corner by a Gish Gallop, Chewbacca Defense, rocketing goalposts, endless JAQing, or some other flavor of persistent, inflexible stupidity. In a desperate parry, we will lash out with a sweeping statement, a generalization, a cliché, an appeal to authority…maybe even a nasty rebuke. It is by exploiting this that people with no hope of winning an argument can still trick themselves into thinking they’ve won one. The tactic is simple: stalemate the argument, never concede a single point, and be as slippery, obtuse, and annoying as possible. Badger, hector, and JAQ until your opponent commits a mistake of form, then pounce on that mistake, clutch at your pearls, declare the moral high ground, and claim another person’s misstep as your own counterfeit victory.

    This is a known quantity that deserves a name. I suggest calling it the Spock’s Mother gambit, after the Star Trek trope of Kirk intentionally angering Spock as a shortcut around Spock’s famous Vulcan logic.

  58. mumadaddon 31 Oct 2014 at 3:32 pm

    jterritt -that’s eerily on the money. I’m thinking of a famous blue hedgehog particularly.

  59. adooron 27 Mar 2015 at 4:40 pm


    You wrote: “The film is “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels,” and if the trailer is any indication,..” does that mean that you haven’t watched it?

    I’m finding that pointing the finger to another’s hysteria, straw-man and other logical fallacies, and accusing the other of lacking honesty has had great traction on both sides. So often it seems as though that ends up being more of what is discussed that actual facts or evidence.

    On that note: in light of the reputation of Liaoning Province, China, doesn’t it concern you in accepting the validity of what “evidence” comes from there? We know that the poor there are creating “fossils” in order to gain money even when that means taking a chicken carcass and altering it to have a dinosaur tail.

    Even if the fossils are valid, we have less evidence to learn from them given that these fossils are now seen by scientist long after they have been excavated out of the ground. Don’t you think then that what we can really say we gained from our “evidence” is less than ideal, if not inconclusive? Can’t you agree then that although there are things we can learn and information to analyze, it doesn’t mean that we really are close to being able to conclusive prove the significance of the evidence we have?

    There’s lots of evidence and then there is strong evidence. You don’t need a lot of evidence if what you have is strong but if what you have is inconclusive then it doesn’t really matter how many piles of things you can point to, it still doesn’t shut out the possibility of another explanation. And, other thoughts will continue to exist until then.

  60. Steven Novellaon 28 Mar 2015 at 7:34 pm

    adoor – when I wrote this the film was not available, only the trailer.

    You make a false equivalency about “both sides.” I am discussing logic and evidence here, but also pointing out the poor logic and intellectual integrity of activist creationists.

    Scientists have been going to China for years and digging up fossils for themselves, not relying on local fossil hunters. Plus, you can’t fool the scientific community with chicken bones. That is rather absurd.

    The evidence is not inconclusive, as you suggest. There is now a mountain of evidence documenting the adaptive radiation of feathered dinosaurs, with some developing features in the direction of modern birds. The evidence if fairly unequivocal that theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds. There is high quality evidence, not just high volume. I recommend you read some primary scientific sources on bird evolution.

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