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No Comfort for Darwin

So, I’m assuming that you’ve seen that Cameron and Comfort are planning to distribute copies of “The Origin of Species” with their 50-page introduction saying how evolution is all mumbo-jumbo.

I’ve heard countless references to various findings that are in support of evolution, whether they be fossil finds (with and without predictions), lab experiments, and the like. If you have any relatively handy, would you be able to send some my way? I’d like to put together something to distribute to people who are getting the book debunking Cameron & Comfort’s claims.

Thanks,
Mike

A number of people have pointed out to us that Ray Comfort (the man who brings down the average IQ of creationists – no easy task), and his celebrity stooge, Kirk Cameron of crocoduck infamy, are planning their latest anti-scientific stunt. As Mike writes – they plan to distribute their own personal abridged version of Origin of Species with an introduction full of creationist nonsense.

PZ Myers has also commented on Comfort’s latest shenanigans, suggesting that the scientifically literate should happily accept any donated books so that they can be put to maximal use mocking the creationist nonsense and profound biological ignorance that Comfort regularly spews forth.

Now before anyone bothers to comment that mockery and ridicule are not respectable scientific discourse, and that making fun of Comfort and Cameron does not amount the a substantive rebuttal – don’t bother. This is true but irrelevant. The false premise in such sentiments is that respectable scientific discourse is appropriate in this context, which further assumes that creationist arguments are scientific – they are not. Most criticisms directed at me also commit the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy – why ridicule rather than respond substantively. Actually, in most cases I do both, or at least refer to my prior substantive responses. In fact, in some cases the vast majority of my writing is substantive with a few jabs thrown in, and yet the commenter portrays this as ridicule “instead of” analysis.

Anyway, if someone, in an honest attempt to understand evolutionary theory, puts forward an anti-evolutionary argument I will gladly address it in a respectful manner and focus entirely on logic and evidence. I and many others have even bothered to systematically address the standard arguments put forward by creationists in many venues, even though they are not, in my opinion, intellectually honest or worthy of serious scientific attention. Never-the-less, they have managed to garner public attention and that needs a reply.

But the serious rebuttal has been done – ad nauseum. When jokers like Comfort and Cameron attempt to grab public attention with ludicrous stunts, they do not need serious rebuttal – they need ridicule. Comfort, as PZ pointed out, is profoundly ignorant of basic biology and science in general. His scholarship is laughable – itself a mockery of the human intellect.

Further, these clowns know (either instinctively or empirically) that when they challenge the scientific community to respond to their nonsense it is a win-win for them. If scientists respond, they increase belief in nonsense because much of the public will only perceive that scientists are fighting over this issue, so the controversy must be real. If scientists ignore their challenge, then they have an unopposed forum to spread their nonsense and they win (in public opinion) by default.

So scientists and skeptics walk a fine line – we have to destroy the nonsensical scientific arguments they put forward, sprinkled liberally with disdain and ridicule to make it absolutely clear that this is not a legitimate scientific controversy but a fake public one, meant to deceive and confuse for ideological reasons.

To help such efforts the NESS is building a topic-based reference to bring together relevant information about major pseudoscientific topics, starting with creationism. In addition to listing all our own articles and podcast segments, it also gives a quick overview of the topic and lists the best outside resources. Finally, it gives references and quick summaries of the most important relevant published research.

We are just starting this project, so feedback is helpful. Let us know what kind of information would be most useful and if there are ways we can better organize it.

Also, while this is not a wiki, the more people we have helping with this project the better. So if you have any references or links we should include just e-mail them to snovella@theness.com. Also, if anyone out there wants to edit a specific topic contact me at the same address.

Meanwhile, while we build our substantive resources on pseudosciences like creationism, feel free to heap ridicule on buffoons like Comfort and Cameron.

4 comments to No Comfort for Darwin

  • bigjohn756

    IMO, the first thing to be done is to determine how their version of ‘Origins’ has been edited. Then, comments can be made showing how they they have crafted it to suit their agenda. I have made an assumption here that they did, indeed, do this. In fact, I would be very surprised if they didn’t.

  • Personally, I’d like to see more of a Wiki edited and maintained by those in our community to slowly expand upon and address each of the issues present in the book, especially if it truly has been edited.

    Outside of that, I’d really like to see a clean, simple, descriptive URL for the site that can be rubber-stamped on copies of the book by those who care so people can easily find the site when they read the book.

  • A fully indexed list of common misconceptions/lies/misinformation along with corresponding rebuttals and references to research would be an awesome resource for skeptics and scientists everywhere.

    I’d agree with the previous poster that a Wiki could be a good format for this.

  • bigjohn756

    Oh, they edited it all right. Their version is only 280 pages plus their 50 page addendum. IIRC, the original was over 500 pages.

    I think that it is extremely important for someone who knows what they are talking about to analyze what was left in and what was removed by these guys in order to determine how they expect to use their version to support their propaganda. I guess a Wiki would be OK as long as it was carefully monitored by those in the know. I am of the opinion that Wikis can be a bit iffy.

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