Hey look, more creationist dishonesty!

Last month, PZ Myers, famous atheist blogger and evolutionary developmental biologist, was at the center of a bit of a furor when producers at a screening of the creationism propaganda film “Expelledhad armed thugs kick him out of the theater, while completely ignoring his guest Richard Dawkins, an even more famous atheist. My blog post attracted a bit of discussion in the comments. But now it looks like that favorite mouthpiece of the Intelligent Design Creationism movement, the blog Uncommon Descent, has commented on what I said. And, as creationists are wont to do, they did it in a thoroughly dishonest and misleading fashion. Here’s a piece-by-piece vivisection of their attempt at framing this incident as anything other than a complete embarrassment for the creationist movement.

To recap, thuggery or scams that have persisted for a long time and are endorsed at the highest levels of the establishment come to seem “normal.” So the “problem” is not the behavior of thugs and scammers but the attempted responses of those they attack.

Playing the victim card is a very common creationist tactic. “Oh no!”, they shriek, “The entire scientific establishment is out to get us!” And I guess they’re sort of right about that. But it’s not because of the reasons they claim — it’s not that they’re being persecuted, or “thugged” or “scammed”; it’s simply because they are using dishonest tactics to try to pervert real science and ruin students’ educations with non-reality-based nonsense. They claim some overarching conspiracy, as if all scientists “know” evolution is fake but just keep hush hush about it for their own reasons. I guess they’re just projecting?

That’s what the Expelled film is doing in the ID vs. unguided evolution (Darwinism) controversy. It shows both the evidence for intelligent design of life and the unconscionable lengths to which the Darwin fans are willing to go, to keep both students and the broad public from knowing why their ideas about the nature of life are probably wrong.

Actually, it’s the other way around. Expelled shows the lengths to which creationists are willing to go to distort the truth and resort to propagandist tactics to spread their false ideas. They even go so far as to compare scientists who believe in evolution with Stalin and Hitler, complete with a visit to an actual Nazi concentration camp. But yeah, it’s really the scientists who are going to unconscionable lengths for having the audacity to speak the simple truth about the world.

It is most revealing that a number of people describe Myers as a nice guy. You know, “a gentle soul”, a gentleman, and soft-spoken [link to my blog post] but with strong convictions, and all that.

What could they possibly mean, in light of the material above [various negative things PZ Myers has said about creationists and religion], which Myers has never disowned?

Well, since you’re asking what I could possibly mean when I said PZ Myers is “soft-spoken in real life”, I feel compelled to answer that. Yes, it’s true that PZ Myers is a vocal critic of creationism on his blog. He even uses naughty language from time to time. Get over it; this isn’t Sesame Street. But surely the creationists are aware that people often come off seeming completely different in different media? PZ Myers is very much the academic type. He lives in the world of the spoken word, and he can be vicious with it.

But when I met him a couple of months ago (along with Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy Blog; they were both in town for a science convention) I saw what he’s actually like in person. He was very low-tempo, soft-spoken, dare I even say somewhat shy amongst the decent group of people he’d never met before. Think of the standard non-city-dwelling midwesterner stereotype and you’ve got it. So the notion that he was causing any sort of a ruckus at the Expelled screening (as some sort of justification for kicking him out besides his past criticisms of creationism) is just absurd.

So now I’d like to turn the question back around on the creationists over at Uncommon Descent: Do you have any rationale behind your claim that PZ Myers is not a nice guy other than his frequent criticism of your ridiculous ideology? Those of us who’ve actually met him know he’s a nice guy. And if you really insist on making personal criticism of a few scientists’ writing styles a large part of your argument against evolution, please pardon us if we laugh in your face. The history of science is full of eccentric geniuses and antisocial pricks, but none of that matters, so long as their theories are backed up by the evidence. If someone disagrees with general relativity and wants to disprove it, the only correct way to do so is by producing contradictory evidence, not by attacking Albert Einstein’s character. Yet the creationists think that using the same tactics on the likes of Charles Darwin and PZ Myers are acceptable lines of argumentation — and PZ Myers isn’t even an antisocial prick!

Herre’s a thought: Abused women sometimes tell friends, in all seriousness, “He’s a really nice guy, you know. As long as you don’t get on his wrong side.” In one such case, the appropriate response was offered by a female relative of mine who snapped, “Well, I can tell you this. If I ever get on his wrong side and anything happens, he will end up wishing he had only right sides.”

And it’s always nice to close out a post on ridiculous creationists with a truly ridiculous creationist quote. Here you see a standard play in the creationist playbook: if you feel like you have already used too many references to Nazis for one day, just bring up anything else that’s really offensive to compare your opponents with, like husbands who beat their wives! Creationists; is there anything they won’t say? Apparently not.

11 Responses to “Hey look, more creationist dishonesty!”

  1. Jordan Mills Says:

    That’s about all the ranting and blatant bias I can take from your feed. Bye.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Sorry, who the hell are you again? You just showed up one day on another evolution post, and now it looks like you’re gone. Why do you feel like I need to cater to your interests and defer to your delicate sensibilities?

    Incidentally, is it really so hard for you to accept simple truths of the universe that you’d rather take your ball and go home?

  3. Jens 'Spacejens' Rydholm Says:

    I would not take people like “Jordan Mills” seriously in this kind of context. It is very likely (not certain, but likely) that posters like that come to your blog simply because you offend them (most likely they were referred here by others who agree with them), and they decide to pose as regular readers leaving in order to get you to change your viewpoints.

    In other words, they are attempting to play on your ego. By giving you the impression that your views are unpopular, they hope to make you change your opinions (or at least the way you express them).

    This kind of tactic is very common on the internet in general, regardless of subject. Don’t fall for it. Not that I think you would :-)

  4. Jeff V Says:

    Is it even possible to accuse someone of bias when they ar writing an OPINION post?

    “I sure hate all those bias editorialist out there”

    Doesn’t that sound stupid…

  5. Wintermute Says:

    The blog is called “Cyde Weys Musings,” one shouldn’t expect an opinion contrary to the blog author’s. Maybe Jordan Mills should find a blog called “Someone other than Cyde Weys Musings.” Or, better still, since the internets are full of “rants” and “blatant bias,” one can only hope that Jordan Mills has left the Internet completely.

    ‘mute

  6. Cyde Weys Says:

    Jeff: His definition of bias is someone who disagrees with him. Obviously, someone who agrees with him isn’t biased, they’re speaking the truth.

    Thinking back on the original comment, what we’re looking at is another common creationist tactic: the fallacy of false equivalence. Since there are two “competing theories” at work here, it’s completely unfair to dismiss one out of hand (the thinking goes). I’m “biased” because I’m not giving equal weight to whatever other alternatives to evolution woo-woo thinkers come up with.

    Of course, this isn’t how argumentation works, and it sure as hell isn’t how science works. Generally there’s only one truth, but an infinite number of possible false variants. Should we give equal time in Chemistry class to the four fundamental Aristotelian elements of earth, wind, water, and fire versus the Periodic Table of the Elements? Should we give equal time in Physics class to the notion that objects fall because all objects want to be at rest versus the theory of gravity and Newton’s Laws? Should we give equal time in Astronomy class to geocentrism versus a much more nuanced view of the universe in which not only isn’t the Earth the center, nor is the Sun, but that there is no center at all because space-time itself is expanding?

    Hell no! Why do you expect me to give equal weight to superstitious nonsense that was disproved hundreds of years ago?! It’s only because you’re so incredibly ignorant that you would ever even demand such a thing.

  7. Kelly Martin Says:

    On the other hand, we do need to teach people about the four Aristotelian elements, and all those other odd now-discredited theories. They form an important part of our history, and if taught properly can help students to understand how science came to be science.

    One of the things I’ve found interesting in watching Discovery Channel stuff is that the ancient Greek priests clearly knew that many of their religious gimmicks were just that. At the same time, they also furthered both the scientific and the technical arts. It reminds me of Granny Weatherwax and the admonition that you have to tell people a story that they’ll believe if you want them to do what they need to do. (You should read Pratchett, if you haven’t.) A lot of the “inner mysteries” of many religions is the revelation that it’s all a load of hooey and here’s the real science behind what we do.

    The modern world has taken away the mask and made science accessible to the masses. The problem is that the masses don’t want that complexity; they want simple instructions that they can follow without having to think a whole lot. In short, they want priests to tell them what to do, not advice on how to figure it out themselves. Scientists hurt themselves even more here because they constantly express doubt, while the priests never do.

  8. drinian Says:

    In all honesty, as hard as it may be to remain calm in the face of Discovery Institute insanity, your mode of writing and use of loaded speech lends itself to being called a “rant.” And rants are rarely received well by those who don’t already agree with their points. Brush up on your rhetoric; it is something of a perennial “lost art.”

    On the other hand, that last quote sounds quite a bit like a threat towards Meyers.

  9. Cyde Weys Says:

    drinian: Oh, I won’t argue that I’m ranting, and yes, I am kind of preaching to the choir here on this blog (uhh, except for Jordan Mills I guess, but he’s gone now anyway). I’ve long since decided against trying to convince anyone with this stuff, because religion is so deeply rooted that merely reading an argument against it online won’t do anything. So yes, I do end up writing rants, but only because they’re such fun!

  10. Help expose Expelled | Cyde Weys Musings Says:

    […] if you don’t quite know what I’m talking about, reading up on some more background information might be in […]

  11. edc Says:

    hey look! more atheist lies!