About one year ago Keith Gilmour, a UK based School Teacher, went head-to-head with a Creationist kook called Dr Alastair Noble in response to a talk he gave at an event organised by the Humanist Society of Scotland. That dialog in turn led to Casey Luskin jumping in … yes indeed “That” Mr Luskin, the Discovery Institute staffer.
Poor old Mr Luskin tried his best, but Keith quickly slices and dices his daft claims, and here now is Keith’s last reply to Mr Luskin a couple of weeks ago ….
To: Casey Luskin
From: Keith Gilmour
Sent: April 29, 2012
I don’t know whether or not you actually did find my imagined posturing “amusing” but I genuinely was amused to see
you reduced to typing “LOL” (twice!), quote-mining, ending a sentence with a smiley face, and falsely claiming to
have “refuted” my points.
Instead of telling me which of your “arguments” you think I failed to respond to (zero, by my count), you instead
chide me for not having responded to all of your links. I take it from that gripe that you had actually expected me
to write essay-length replies to each one. In response to that criticism, I would only point out that (a) my last
email ran to over 2500 words as it was, (b) this one runs to over 6000, and (c) life is short. I would also add
that, had you opted to take up my challenge and emailed a holocaust denier, I am almost certain you would have
received just as many links to yet more holocaust denial/scepticism verbiage – coupled with demands that you answer
each and every point about what happened where, when and in what order.
In all honesty, I can’t quite decide how much of my time I should reasonably be devoting to this but keep coming
back to the fact that you can’t even answer the most basic, bumper sticker objections to your pseudo-science.
I was bemused by your clumsy edit (“… [T]hey …”) of the unpersuasive Larry Laudan quote you culled from a book
published a year before the ID racket was born. Why remove “unscientific”? And anyway, what conclusion am I
supposed to take that to? Am I to conclude that ‘pseudo-history’ and ‘pseudo-scholarship’ should not be used when
referring to holocaust deniers/sceptics? That dowsing, dianetics, phrenology, astrology and ESP are “science” after
all? They write in “great detail” on those sites too, by the way – and of their “evidence that challenges”
Also, what makes you think “posturing” would make me “feel better”? Or that I need to “feel better”? Or that I
might need (or want) your permission? What an odd point to make.
Your excuse for drearily repeating your same stock point in a slightly different way was as follows: “If there was
any “a reworking of the same” argument on my part, it was because I forced to repeatedly respond to your repeated
misconception that poor design somehow falsifies design.” However, you were “forced” to do no such thing as I had
repeatedly made clear that I was saying nothing of the sort. This is the argument you ‘want’ me to be making so
this is the argument you attack.
You accuse me of calling you “nasty” names but fail to offer a single example. I did not compare you to a holocaust
denier “for disagreeing with me” and, in fact, did not compare you to a holocaust denier at all. Instead, I
compared your reasoning and denial of scientific fact/evidence to the reasoning of someone who denies historical
evidence (a holocaust denier being the most blatant example of that). Because you can clearly see what I am getting
at, you pretend to interpret this as an attack on your character, as if I’m implying that both sets of deniers are
driven by hatred.
You could have attempted to explain how – if at all – your ‘detection’ of “intelligent design” differs from a
paranoid schizophrenic’s ‘detection’ of conspiracies. Instead, you resort to faux outrage and disingenuously accuse
me of “verbal abuse” and “personal attacks.” Please reread my email of 22nd March and see if you can find a single
example of my having used abuse instead of argument/rebuttal.
Outside of the Discovery Institute bubble, it is not “outlandish rhetoric” to describe ID as a “pseudoscience” –
merely an accurate description. And if your ‘theory’ is that the vast majority of scientists are ‘conspiring’ to
dismiss it as such, then why should I avoid using the term “conspiracy theory” to describe your thinking on this?
Also, it ‘was’ dishonest of you to “repeat, over and over, that you make arguments whilst I merely make
assertions.” And if I have displayed any “misconceptions” about your “arguments”, then it is surely incumbent upon
you to set me straight as to what those misconceptions are. Unfortunately you don’t even ‘try’ to do this.
“You write: “You start out by telling me you ‘explained why you can have an entity that has flaws, but yet it is
still designed’ though I have absolutely no idea why.” I reply: LOL. I think I said that because your website’s
primary argument is that if an entity has flaws then it isn’t designed.”
No, that is ‘not’ my website’s “primary argument” – as I have repeatedly made abundantly clear (including in the
second half of the “You start out…” paragraph cited above) – “…the 139 examples on the C4UD list are
‘unintelligent’ in both senses of the word. “Either they imply a designer who is ‘not very bright’ or ‘a bit thick’
or else they imply a designer that is ‘literally mindless’ – as well as blind, purposeless and directionless.”“
Paley did not imagine (e.g.) eyes – or, indeed, watches – to be ‘perfect’ and was, to use your description of ID
(from an earlier email), pointing to “an indicator that some goal-directed process, capable of acting with will,
forethought, and intentionality, was involved in designing an object.” Paley argued from complexity not
“perfection” (flawlessness), as you wrongly assert, so yet again the misconception is yours rather than mine.
ID is not a “theory” and has, as far as I’m aware, passed no tests whatsoever and added ‘nothing’ to the store of
human knowledge. If it actually worked, you would presumably be able to tell me which forest fires were started
deliberately and which by accident, which deaths were natural/accidental and which premeditated murder, which rocks
were chipped and scratched by humans and which by natural phenomena, which canvases feature an action painting and
which were inadvertently splashed with paint when a shelf collapsed – and you would be able to manage this without
employing any of the techniques detectives, scientists and art critics are already able to call upon.
Your use of the phrase “information-based arguments” does not help. By saying “…we seek to test natural
structures to see if they contain the type of information which in our experience comes from intelligence” all that
you are really saying is, ‘We’re dissecting this eyeball to see if it’s a bit like a watch!’
“You wrote: “You make clear that, to your way of thinking, tiny variations can add up and up but not up and up and
up and up“. I reply: “In your words, YES, tiny variations can [add] “up and up and up and up” so long as there is
an advantage provided along each small step of an evolutionary pathway. But when many mutations or changes are
needed before you get any advantage, then they can’t add “up and up and up.“”
WHAT can’t add up and up? – tiny differences? (Remember, we are supposed to be talking here about the origin and
development of species). And do you seriously imagine every mutation must be beneficial? One might be neutral,
making no difference either way – another could be a disadvantage the organism gets away with (or that is a
disadvantage in one way but an advantage in another) – and besides, this is not happening in a vacuum! Do you
really imagine that what’s going on round about makes no difference at all? And what on earth do you take “net
benefit” to mean?
“Though Coyne might claim otherwise, there is very good evidence that many structures in nature just like this
exist.” There’s no “might” about it – as you well know – and it’s notable that you opted not to name any!
On Behe and Snoke, I take it you’ve read Michael Lynch’s ‘Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins’ (2005).
If not, here’s a chunk of his abstract: “It is shown here that the conclusions of this prior work are an artefact
of unwarranted biological assumptions, inappropriate mathematical modelling, and faulty logic. Numerous simple
pathways exist by which adaptive multi-residue functions can evolve on time scales of a million years (or much
less) in populations of only moderate size. Thus, the classical evolutionary trajectory of descent with
modification is adequate to explain the diversification of protein functions.”
And this is from ‘The Rate of Establishment of Complex Adaptations’ – Michael Lynch and Adam Abegg in ‘Molecular
Biology and Evolution’ (2010): “However, the message to be gained from the preceding results is that the elevated
power of both random genetic drift and mutation may enable the acquisition of complex adaptations in multicellular
species at rates that are not greatly different from those achievable in enormous microbial populations.”
Why no mention of “intelligent design” or “irreducible complexity” in the Behe/Snoke paper, by the way? Was that
by accident – or design?
And what makes you think everything scientists can’t (fully) explain (yet) must somehow be a point for the ID
crowd? Isn’t that exactly the tactic holocaust deniers/sceptics employ? No wonder you don’t like that comparison!
If you have come up with a new mutational mechanism then what is it and how do you think it works? Please tell me
it’s something more than, ‘God did it!’
Which “critics of Michael Behe concede” his points on this, by the way?
On hominid skulls, you can easily find examples showing incremental shrinkage of cheek/jaw bones and expansion of
the cranium. (Why do you think our teeth are so crammed?). Are these down to multiple mutations or to a single
mutation in a control gene? I don’t know (and nor do you) but I do know that repeated interventions from your
proposed Intelligent Designer (interventions your friend Jonathan McLatchie tells me “ID is not committed to”)
would not be an explanation and would move us not one step further forward. Beyond this, I’m not sure how you’d
even ‘begin’ to try and explain away the skulls of Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Homo
habilis, Homo erectus, and etc (as well as those of our closest living relatives) – but doubtless you’ll have come
up with some ruse!
Highly revealing, also, that you should choose to describe a scientific hypothesis as “a nice story.” NOTHING could
better sum up your contemptible attitude towards science.
And, just out of interest, what’s your answer to Bernard Wood’s curious question, “What are the chances of that?”
You say that Wood (author of Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction) “explained why simply identifying the
effects of a mutation does not imply that we have an accurate evolutionary story” but who thinks it does? Also,
there are plenty of mutations that reduce the fitness of individuals but sometimes those individuals get away with
I would very much doubt that one game-changer mutation can be credited with Homo sapiens but, as far as I can tell,
you only bring this sort of thing up because, again, you imagine anything scientists don’t know (or agree upon) as
yet must automatically be a point for the ‘nothing to offer’ ID crowd. What a worthless approach.
I’m not even sure it’s accurate to say that a mutation “only would’ve become fixed if it coincided with” other
mutations. What is Wood basing that on? Do you know? Or do you never get beyond the quote-mining stage?
“Moreover, if we accept the story that human braincases enlarged due to this unlikely mutation…” We don’t have to
accept any such thing at this stage – we need only keep an open mind and carry on investigating (as opposed to,
say, shoehorning in an Intelligent Designer and exclaiming, ‘That’s solved that!’).
You quote Ian Tattersal (The Monkey in the Mirror) ‘observing’ that (your words) “simply enlarging the brain does
very little to explain the evolution of human cognition” as if this is some great, new revelation. Who has ‘ever’
said, “Ah! – Bit bigger! – Well, that’s that solved!”?
Surely you know that through the evolution of primates, brain sizes have sometimes increased and sometimes
decreased; that Homo floresiensis appear to have been no less intelligent than Homo sapiens despite their very much
smaller brains; and that environmental factors, the advent of meat eating and cooking, radiation, transgenerational
responses, proviruses and adeno-associated viruses that insert themselves into the human genome, and etc clearly
have their part to play. Do you know ‘anything’ about epigenetics or epigenomics? – Or are you just as desperate to
shoehorn in an ‘Intelligent Switcher’ who turns certain genes on and off?
You also quote Tattersall as follows: “[T]he arrival of the modern cognitive capacity did not simply involve adding
just a bit more neural material, that last little bit of extra brain size that pushed us over the brink. Still less
did it involve adding new brain structures, for basic brain design remains remarkably uniform among all the higher
But what is it you think this proves? And why that particular quote?
Here is Tattersall in the prologue to ‘Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins’ – “Because of the
peculiar construction resulting from their complex history, our brains are far from directly comparable to a feat
of human engineering. Indeed, they are probably not comparable at all. For engineers always strive, even where they
are consciously or unconsciously constrained, for ‘optimal’ solutions to the problems they are facing. In contrast,
during the long and untidy process that gave rise to the modern human brain, what was already there was always
vastly more influential on the historical outcome – what actually ‘did’ happen – than any potential for future
efficiencies could be. And thank goodness for that. After all, if our brains had been designed like machines, if
they had been optimized for any particular task, they would ‘be’ machines, with all of the predictability and
tedious soullessness that this would imply. For all their flaws, it is the very messiness and adventitiousness of
our brains that makes them – and us – the intellectually fertile, creative, emotional, and interesting entities
that they and we are.”
Why do you keep using snippets from scientists – Ian Tattersall (The Human Odyssey: Four Million Years of Human
Evolution), Richard Byrne (The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence), Richard Dawkins (The Greatest
Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution), Bernard Wood (Human Evolution: A Very Short Introduction), Jerry Coyne
(Why Evolution is True) – who find the Intelligent Design racket as risible as I do? Is it so you can pretend that
they’ve inadvertently proved ID/CSI right without even noticing? – that you have wisely deduced what they have
myopically missed? There is another group notorious for employing this tactic but I hesitate to mention them again,
lest I be accused of making a “sordid comparison.”
Moving onto language, you quote Charles Snowdon as follows: “How could we move from communication systems in
nonhuman primates to human language in a manner consistent with evolutionary principles? Arguments that humans are
fundamentally different from nonhuman animals either set the stage for creationist explanations or simply avoid the
attempt to develop a persuasive evolutionary argument.”
Except that “creationist explanations” explain nothing at all and would serve only to raise yet more questions – as
you are well aware. To repeat, it is not the case that anything not yet clear to scientists must somehow mean
points for the ID crowd. Added to this, your decision to follow “Arguments that humans are fundamentally different
from non-human animals…” (Snowdon) with “Humans are quite different because…” (Byrne) is, in the context of
your evolution denial/scepticism, too obviously intended to mislead.
“Again, human language requires multiple coordinated mutations before there is any benefit, so these would seem
unlikely to arise by unguided Darwinian mechanisms.”
“Multiple coordinated mutations“? Another ignorant ‘gem’ I will be only too delighted to add to my C4UD site’s ID
Hall of Shame! Only someone hopeless on genetics – and desperate to believe in an Intelligent Coordinator could
make such a stunningly stupid remark! To make matters even worse, you clearly know next to nothing about the
evolution of language, non-human communication, bonobo language research, proto-syntax in monkeys, and etc.
“Since humans appear hard-wired for language, one evolutionist, Elizabeth Bates, suggests that this leaves two
unpalatable options for evolutionists: “If the basic structural principles of language cannot be learned (bottom
up) or derived (top down), there are only two possible explanations for their existence: either Universal Grammar
was endowed to us directly by the Creator, or else our species has undergone a mutation of unprecedented magnitude,
a cognitive equivalent of the Big Bang.” “What protoform can we possibly envision that could have given birth to
constraints on the extraction of noun phrases from an embedded clause? What could it conceivably mean for an
organism to possess half a symbol or three quarters of a rule? …monadic symbols, on a yes-or-no basis – a process
that cries out for a Creationist explanation.“”
This quotation comes from a (TWENTY-YEAR-OLD) book edited by Norman A. Krasnegor, Duane M. Rumbaugh, Richard L.
Schiefelbusch and Michael Studdert-Kennedy, ‘Biological and Behavioral Determinants of Language Development’ and
stops just before Ms Bates, writing in a chapter entitled ‘Symbols and Syntax: A Darwinian Approach to Language
Development’ (and under the heading Toward a Darwinian Solution), goes on to try and answer this puzzle,
“presenting a view of the biological basis of language that invokes five concepts from evolutionary theory:
preadaptation, dual function, limited recapitulation, heterochrony, and functional branch points.” However, the
last part of your quotation (“…monadic symbols…”) follows a jump of twenty-six pages and stops just before this
summary: “With distributed symbols and probabilistic syntax, we can resolve the problem of origins and yet, at the
same time, foresee a way to arrive at all the advantages of a deterministic architecture.”
Whilst your use of this text is highly suspect, I can certainly see why you would pounce on it. But give it just a
moment’s thought and you’ll see that all you’re really doing is trying to recycle the “two possible explanations”
alternative into a false choice then using the “half a rule” line in the same way that an ignorant creationist
might demand to know, ‘What use is half an eye?’
Were I able to interest you in more than just quote-mining and distortion, there is plenty of fascinating research
to be read (and done) on how human language evolved – from warning sounds, pleasure/pain, onomatopoeia, a desire
to cooperate (and deceive), oral imitations of sign language, and so on. And does it come from one original
‘proto-human’ language (from which all others have evolved) or have languages evolved independently – in isolated
human populations – many times? I have no idea, but I do know that using God to plug gaps in our knowledge will
progress things not one iota – either for science ‘or’ religion.
You simply assert that “evolving a larger or more intelligent brain with the language-abilities that humans have
would require many coordinated changes” and then assert that these changes “cannot be coordinated by Darwinian
mechanisms under reasonable timescales” – and having previously had the nerve to repeat (time and again) that you,
Casey Luskin, make arguments whilst I merely make assertions!
It is obvious from your claim, that humans could not have been “generated by Darwinian evolution“, that you have
not “studied human origins extensively.” Had you done so, you would not have tried to make so much of human brain
size. You would know that Neanderthals’ brains were the same size as those of Homo sapiens but that we wound up
with more developed temporal lobes (for language, listening and long-term memory) along with a more flexed upper
respiratory tract, allowing sounds to be produced faster and in greater variety.
On your misguided obsession with multiple mutations, here’s Steve Mirsky’s June 2nd 2011 introduction to Daniel
Schrider, Jonathan Hourmozdi and Matthew Hahn’s ‘Pervasive Multinucleotide Mutational Events in Eukaryotes’
Multiple Mutations May Be Common
“By examining the genomes of various multicellular organisms, researchers concluded that about 3 percent of all
mutations are actually multiples, in which more than a single letter in the DNA code gets changed at the same
“In a point mutation, a single letter of the genetic code changes to another letter. When a protein gets made from
that new code, it’ll be slightly different from usual. But new research finds that it may be fairly common for
multiple mutations to happen in DNA simultaneously. Which could make big evolutionary jumps possible immediately,
without waiting for the changes to accrue over generations. The work is in the journal Current Biology. [Daniel
Schrider, Jonathan Hourmozdi and Matthew Hahn, Pervasive Multinucleotide Mutational Events in Eukaryotes].”
“The researchers did close examinations of the genomes of organisms ranging from yeast to fruit flies to the plant
Arabidopsis to humans. And they concluded that about three percent of all new mutations must be multiples. A
likely explanation is that some polymerase enzyme is particularly prone to errors when it’s weaving a strand of
“Here’s why having multiples could be a big deal. The single mutation-at-a-time view would be like hoping you hit
the Pick 4 lottery by getting one number a day for four days. Sadly, what you really get is four losing tickets.
But multiple mutations could let you hit the Pick 4 all at once. And win the evolutionary lottery.”
Pervasive Multinucleotide Mutational Events in Eukaryotes — Daniel R. Schrider, Jonathan N. Hourmozdi and
Matthew W. Hahn
When you talk of “the inability of Darwinian evolution” all you’re really doing is asking, ‘How could there
possibly be a natural explanation for that?’ But real science is about ‘looking’ for natural explanations. ‘An
Intelligent Designer did it!’ does nothing to help.
You seem to dismiss the concurrent as well as the consecutive; to leave junk DNA out of the equation; to ignore
neutral traits, radiation, RNA, errors in copying, exaptations, side effects of selection, random genetic drift,
and etc – and whilst cheerfully accepting any assumptions that might allow you to deny multiple mutations. But,
once more, you get no further than implying anything still unclear to scientists somehow garners points for the ID
crowd – a tactic ever-popular with the other half of the “sordid comparison” – seemingly imagining evolution to be
an optimizing process and, when all else fails, just falling back on arguments from ignorance and personal
incredulity (mainly the unravelled goof of irreducible complexity) along with baseless assertions about
unreasonable timescales, “too much” (as opposed to ‘almost too much’) CSI, non-existent functions and
all-or-nothing changes. And throughout, it isn’t even clear whereabouts you’re trying to shoehorn in your
Intelligent Designer/Gene-switcher/Mutations-coordinator/Protein-folder/Knob-twiddling fine-tuner!
Worse, you twice tell me what couldn’t have happened in the history of the earth – seemingly unaware that we’ve
been down this road before. People used to think natural selection was just too slow to work but this scepticism
died out when our understanding of the age of the earth improved. Unfortunately you now have to hope that our
understanding of genetics won’t improve – making it embarrassingly easy to guess what your attitude might have been
towards Big Bang cosmology and special relativity when some stars appeared to be older than the universe and when
CERN neutrinos apparently travelled faster than the speed of light (though, of course, this assumes a degree of
consistency on your part).
I would also add that had Axe and Gauger proved even a fraction of what you claim for them (and what they appear to
be claiming for themselves) they would be picking up Nobel prizes by now!
“So throughout biology we see structures that would require MANY CHANGES before any advantage is given.” And an
example would be?
“You write: “I blame a blind, natural process because that is where overwhelming evidence points. There is no
reason to blame/credit God.” I reply: OK, then why don’t you stop pointing to alleged examples of poor design and
start showing evidence for Darwinian evolution?”
Why do you refer to “alleged examples of poor design“? Which of the C4UD examples do you consider ‘good’ design?
And why should I turn my website into yet another compilation of evidence?
Or what am I (a non-scientist) going to add to The Greatest Show on Earth, Why Evolution is True, The Triumph of an
Idea, Your Inner Fish, What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, The Origin of Our Species, The Incredible Human
Journey, Almost Like A Whale, and etc?
Should I be impressed if those titles feature in the “collection of dozens” of books you “own (and have read) by
evolutionists on human origins“? As you clearly read scientific theory and fact as mere opinion and conjecture –
and with a closed mind, to boot – I rather think not.
“You write: At least I’m not pretending to have found a new science without having provided ‘any’ research evidence
to reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journals! I reply: Perhaps you’re not aware there are a number of
peer-reviewed scientific papers which support ID. For details, please see: http://www.discovery.org/a/2640”
Having spent ‘ages’ wading through your list of ‘Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the
Theory of Intelligent Design’ (I’d type “LOL” at this point but I’m not ten!), I find that my point still stands –
‘where’ is the ID research evidence? There isn’t any – just a roll call of ID proponents whose support for a
pseudoscience obviously cannot falsify their ‘legitimate’ scientific work. No-one would suggest that someone who
researches (and writes well on) aspects of the Second World War but then disgraces themselves by questioning the
scale and policy of the holocaust instantly controverts everything else they’ve ever written on WWII.
Why are books on the list? What is ‘that’ supposed to prove?
There are even odd little riders underneath them – “It was peer-reviewed by a philosopher of science, a rhetorician
of science, and a professor in the biological sciences from an Ivy League university.” Wow! Who were they? “The
publisher subjected the book to standard scientific peer-review by several prominent biochemists and biological
scientists.” Fantastic! Who were they?
My favourite was this: “This article argues that intelligent design is recognizable in the human heart, stating:
“Comparative anatomy points to a design and a Designer. Surgeons, anatomists and anyone studying the human form and
function have an unsurpassed opportunity to ponder over the wonders of creation and contemplate the basic
questions: where did we come from? why are we here? and where are we going?”
I even found a reference to “the current boom” (presumably the seven submissions that somehow made it past
bio-complexity.org’s “editorial team” of ID proponents) along with the comical claim that “ID’s peer-reviewed
publication record shows that it deserves — and is receiving — serious consideration by the scientific
community.” Which scientific community? The miniscule ID and/or creationist “scientific” community?
Added to this, some papers are clearly only on your list because they ‘mention’ certain ID proponents. And why on
earth does William Lane Craig feature on this list – and FOUR TIMES, for heaven’s sake!
“You write: “We create bombs. Viruses evolve. And we have no reason to think otherwise.” I reply: Except you
haven’t provided a reason other than making assertions like this…”
We can watch viruses evolve in the lab. Is that a good enough reason for you?
“You write: “As you do not understand why the watch-organism analogy is a bad one, you just keep making the same
mistake over and over again.” I reply: I don’t recall making a “watch-organism analogy.” Rather, I showed that
biological systems contain the same type of information we find in designed objects.” That ‘is’ a watch-organism
analogy – or brain/computer, eye/camera, software/DNA, machinery, computers, buildings, guns, bombs, GM, Ford
Pintos, etc. Besides, I’ve already conceded that you didn’t explicitly use a watch as a comparison: “And while you
don’t actually use the words ‘pocket watch’ in your Paley revamp, you might just as well. A watch “requires
multiple integrated parts which must be present, all-at-once, in order for the system to function.” Eyes, on the
other hand, vary throughout nature from the simple (earthworm) to the complex (eagle). They vary in complexity and
grow in complexity. Again, what is it about that you don’t get?”
“Hubert Yockey explains that when you study life’s information in a mathematical sense, the comparison is not an
“analogy” but is much stronger. I explained this to you previously: “It is important to understand that we are not
reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis [that the exact order of symbols records the information] applies
directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is
Two things. Firstly, your ‘explanation’ was nothing of the sort. You are comparing what humans make to what nature
makes. Refusing the word ‘analogy’ changes absolutely nothing and the fact that something can be counted and
measured tells us zilch about whether it evolved or was designed. Secondly, I find it absolutely contemptible that
you are trying to make it sound like Hubert Yockey is agreeing with you. He isn’t and I think it a disgrace that
his daughter should feel compelled to add the following to her father’s website: “The first thing I want noted
about my father is that he is not in any way, shape or form a Creationist. He does not support Intelligent Design.
He supports Darwin’s theory of evolution and points out that it is one of the best-supported theories in science.”
To repeat what I have already said above, I did not compare you to a holocaust denier. It was your reasoning and
denial of scientific fact/evidence — and, I would now add to that, your tactics — that I compared to the
reasoning and denial of historical fact/evidence of a holocaust denier. Further, it is positively ludicrous to
try and claim that this comparison is something I have “sunk” – or am “sinking” – to as it is one that I have
already made, several times, both on the C4UD site and elsewhere over the past year.
“Both object that a minority of highly educated people reject what 99% of scientists/historians accept – and that
this fringe group will eventually be proved right. (For holocaust deniers, see Paul Rassinier, Robert Faurisson,
Arthur Butz, The Institute for Historical Review, and etc). Both are notorious for quoting experts out of context
(to give the misleading impression their crank view has some serious support), for mischaracterising scholarly
debate (on details) as a failure to agree even on the basics, and for seizing upon any mistake (however minor) to
argue that the entire field of study is riddled with incompetence, ignorance and deception. Both rely on a kind of
‘book disproved by its missing pages’ reasoning and are forever demanding ‘caught in the act’ evidence before
they’ll believe a single thing (though usually only in this area of life). Both groups imagine themselves to be
victims of a massive conspiracy that shuts them out of some imagined ‘debate’ and both accuse their critics of
misunderstanding them (like we think holocaust deniers imagine no killings took place at all and evolution deniers
believe nothing has evolved, anywhere – ever). Call them evolution/holocaust sceptics, if that seems more
Creationism, Holocaust Denial and The ID Crowd
“Both denialism groups reject overwhelming existing evidence, offer no real evidence to the contrary, dishonestly
quote experts out of context, mischaracterise scholarly debate, and take comfort in paranoid conspiracy theories.”
Contrary Evidence To Evolution And Global Warming?
“I first read about the similarities in Michael Shermer’s excellent 1997 book Why People Believe Weird Things:
Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (link below) and came across it again most recently
in Richard Dawkins’ equally excellent 2009 book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.”
Contrary Evidence To Evolution And Global Warming?
And here is Michael Shermer in Why People Believe Weird Things: “The irony of this analogy is that the Holocaust
deniers can at least be partially right (the best estimate of the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz, for example,
has changed), whereas the evolution deniers cannot even be partially right – once you allow divine intervention
into the scientific process, all assumptions about natural law go out the window, and with them science.”
I’m sorry I couldn’t persuade you to email a holocaust denier but – let’s leave it as a thought experiment – could
you at least tell me, honestly, whether or not you would have been impressed by a response containing some, or all,
of the following:
“You responded to none of the links I provided where I wrote in great detail about the evidence that challenges”
the Holocaust; “if posturing makes you feel better then feel free to do it. I’m here to seek truth and how I feel
is secondary.“; “I was saddened to see that your latest response is full of nasty namecalling and the like which
has come to characterize the discourse from defenders of” the Holocaust; “Your reply repeatedly uses outlandish
rhetoric” (e.g. ‘pseudohistory,’ “conspiracy theories,” etc.), attacking me personally (e.g. “dishonest,”
comparing me to a ‘9/11 denier’ etc); When a historian “starts sinking into personal attacks against me, that’s
usually a good sign that I’ve made a strong argument, because if they had a god rebuttal then they would not be
resorting to substituting verbal abuse for arguments.“; “it saddens me to see that you have sunk to this depth in
your discourse.“; “I’m not even going to dignify” this “with a logical rebuttal because it doesn’t deserve it.“;
“you haven’t provided a reason other than making assertions like this, and comparing me to a” 9/11 denier “for
disagreeing with you.“; “It’s saddening to see that you are sinking to make these kinds of arguments, but it says
something about the weakness of your arguments when you choose to resort to these kinds of comparisons.“; This
“might make you feel better, but it is a sordid comparison that says far more about the strength of your position
than it does about mine.“; “Feel free to suggest any books, links, slides, photographs, etc. which you like. I’ve
studied” the Holocaust extensively; “I own (and have read) dozens of books” on the Holocaust; “I enjoy studying
this topic and would welcome any references you provide.“; “most of what you write is based upon misconceptions
about my arguments.“; “I explained this to you previously“; “This is another one of many examples where I refuted
your prior arguments but you continue to repeat your erroneous claims, and fail to respond to my arguments.“; “my
claim that” the Holocaust couldn’t have happened “under reasonable timescales“; “This is a nice story, but does it
make sense?“; “this shows a misconception on your part.“; we do not have an “accurate” story; “beyond the ability
of” historians to explain – as their defenders “concede“; “a strong challenge to” historians; “alleged examples“;
“unpalatable options” for historians; “you understate my” historical qualifications; “how do you define”
historian? — and so on.
How easily could you (a non-historian) answer points about toxicity, flammability, capacity, mechanisms, timings,
logistics, fumigation, estimates, ventilation systems, ash, gas, staffing, feasibility and fuels? Or questions
about how much would have been possible in what period of time, which part of which camp was designed (or
converted) for what, how many each camp could/did hold, what methods were used, contradictions in survivors’
testimonies, disputed diaries, speeches, letters, reports, demographic and forensic evidence, meetings, and/or
And I’m assuming wilful misinterpretations, quote-mining, misrepresentations, lists of essays and books – and links
to yet more cranks – would do nothing to dilute your contempt.
The reason you chose not to “dignify” this comparison “with a logical rebuttal” is, I have every reason to believe,
because you have no such rebuttal to offer. Rather than addressing any of the similarities in reasoning and
tactics, you revealingly opted instead to highlight a couple of things holocaust and evolution deniers/sceptics
DON’T have in common. Doesn’t that strike you as rather pathetic?
If not, then I am happy to throw in the towel and leave you with just one piece of C4UD email feedback I have
received regarding this comparison:
“You’re much too kind. Given the evidence (unforeseen even a few decades ago) from molecular phylogeny, denying
universal common descent is not like denying the Holocaust; it’s like denying that Hitler ever invaded Poland. As
to JM’s list of “scientific difficulties”, they fall into three classes: straightforward misrepresentation of
standard science, logical puzzles based on a refusal to understand how the alternation of random variation and
selection is bound to generate new information (we can even calculate how fast), and (the smallest class) unsolved
problems. What makes ID USELESS is that it gives no account of the process by which information is transferred from
the mind of the Designer to the material of the object. What makes ID POISONOUS is that an unsolved problem is
immediately elevated to the status of an insoluble problem, so that instead of going to the lab we go down on our
“…if you reply, I will not be replying back.”
Pity – you get away with way too much unchallenged. And now I’ll never know who it is you imagine “designed” and
“finely-tuned” the AIDS virus; what it is you think ‘has’ been going on for thousands of millennia; whereabouts you
would seek to shoehorn in an Intelligent Planner, Supplier, Provider, Manufacturer, Builder, Distributor, Developer
and Engineer (or if, instead, you just lazily assume a “Designer” does the lot); how this whole project is
supposedly managed; and why you even bother to draw a distinction between “high” and ‘low’ levels of “CSI” whilst
simultaneously assuming that absolutely everything was, in the final analysis, intelligently designed.
Still, I can, at least, look forward to your 126-page Discovery Institute tract – and with Ann Gauger and Douglas
Axe! My goodness, what a treat!
For some reason, I couldn’t find it on Amazon.
People such as Mr Luskin do indeed believe crazy things, and while I’m sure he is a nice chap and perhaps also a smart chap, he is also quite clearly wrong and does not have real science to back up his creationist claims. There is no middle ground here, either his claim has credible data or it does not, and so far nothing credible has been put on the table.
The tragic core here is that the one person that has been truly fooled by all this is Mr Luskin himself.
Hat tip to Keith for taking to time to dissect his nonsense.
- Keith’s Centre for Unintelligent design with over 130 examples
- Keith’s dialogue full dialogue is here – the Casey Luskin bit is at the end