Monday, March 12, 2007


He's Baaack! He's Laaame!

Young master Aaron Vandenbos, over whom the Discovery Institute Ministry of Misinformation was acting motherly because someone said something nasty to him ... about the DI ... has returned the favor by towing the slippery company line over the recent "debate" between some pastor named Bryan Fischer and Witold Walczak, Legal Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and one of the lead attorneys in the Kitzmiller case.

Fischer had palpitations over the fact that, when he quoted some tough talk from PZ Myers about those who will lie to children and other intellectually defenseless people, the audience thought that being against educational child abuse was worth applauding. PZ gave Fischer all the attention he deserved but Vandenbos is too naive to have learned any better yet. He's already taking a lot of lumps in the comments to the article.

My interest is naturally piqued by Vandenbos trotting out Fischer's quote mining of Stephen Jay Gould for another go around the block:

For instance, Fischer brought up the (late) famous paleontologist Stephen J. Gould, who published a paper in the late 1970s admitting that the absence of transitional fossils in the record was the "trade secret" of paleontology. Walczak’s incredibly intelligent response included interrupting Fischer to snidely proclaim "He’s dead! (no … really!?), and then dismiss the whole thing as just more "creationist chestnuts."
Since I wasn't there (and I don't trust Vandenbos' memory to be unbiased) I'm guessing that Walczak meant something like 'Gould's dead and can't defend himself and this is just some more quote mining by a creationist.' But it doesn't matter much what Walczak meant because it is a really lame quote mine and Gould left a defense. I'll leave it to you to read it at the Quote Mine Project but Gould not only spoke of transitions often being found in the fossil record (though always less than greedy scientists would like) but expressed his bitterness over being misrepresented, that even a decent respect for the dead apparently cannot stop. Once again the people who try to tell us that you can't be moral and accept evolution lie blatantly about what another person said and/or lie about their familiarity with the person's intent.

The best Vanderbos can do is trot out the ploy of demanding unrealistic amounts of evidence that, in any case, could never be fulfilled. He characterizes Gould's statement about the evolutionary tree in the following terms:

... the nodes and tips of the evolutionary tree are supported by fossils, but not the branches in between ...
Again, you can read what Gould actually said at the QMP but imagine for a moment that you are looking over a valley and can see the tops of trees. You focus on one tree and can see a bit of the trunk, some of the branches where they are joined with the trunk and other places where branches split off from each other. But mostly you see the tips of branches and the leaves at the ends of those tips. Do you demand to see the entire tree before recognizing it for what it is? Anyone who does is gnawing on some agenda that will not admit that any evidence is enough. After all, were you there when the acorn started to sprout?

In a last ditch attempt at what is perhaps self-delusion, he practices projection, claiming the incident proves:

... beyond any doubt that the followers of Darwinism are themselves very religious, and very dogmatically opposed to any view other than their own. If it were conceded that ID is indeed religious, based on last Wednesday night no satisfactory argument could be offered that would demonstrate that evolutionists are any less so.
If it were conceded that ID is religious? It was Vandenbos who was recommending ID just days ago because, he said, "what if some supreme intelligence is the cause behind everything we see? What if God is the creator?"

Being angry at the dishonesty displayed by hypocrites like Fischer is apparently not a demonstration of a religious sentiment ... given the way the likes of Fischer and the Discovery Institute, Kent Hovind and Ken Ham can keep lying over and over again and still be clasped to the bosom of many of the faithful.


Hi, John. I really enjoy your blog, usually on a daily basis. But you really ought to fix that "tow the line" quip. The phrase is "toe the line," presumably refering to following orders or instructions.
Bob C.
Blast! That should be "referring." Now I know what a petard feels like.

Bob C.
Oh, I know about the correct metaphor. I was going for something a little different as in hauling on a (slippery) line used by a tow truck.

It won't be the last time I try to coin an annoyingly weird metaphor, perpetrate an actionable pun or generally commit mopery on the English language. That's practically my stocking trade.

And, Bob ... I'm a liberal guy and all that but, if you're gonna feel your petard, could ya not do it in public where you might scare the horses?
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