A smackdown to be enjoyed
Money quote from Hindrocket that raised PZ's ire:
Professor Volokh seemed to assume that someone who doesn’t believe in evolution is a harmless crank, who should not on that account be barred from pursuing a career in, say, medicine. My own view is different. I think that Darwin’s theory of macroevolution is plainly wrong, on strictly scientific grounds. So to bar a student from progressing in his career because he refuses to sign on to what is, in my view, a rather obvious fraud, which cannot withstand the mildest scrutiny, is really an outrage. It is no different from the practice in Soviet Russia of promoting only biologists who believed (or pretended to believe) in the theories of Lamarck, who argued that acquired traits could be inherited. But Darwinism is the official religion of the biological (and more generally, the scientific) establishment, and as such is rigorously enforced.Yikes. I haven't seen such a bunch of grossly ignorant statements on evolution in, oh, say, a day.
And I used to kind of like Powerline. It's even on my sidebar. I must have somehow missed such idiotic posts about something they clearly know nothing about (evolution). It's downright mortifying and embarrassing to those of us who are scientists and tend towards the right side of the spectrum in our politics.
Well, wouldn't you know, but Powerline actually noticed PZ and Deacon, another member of the blog, responded, leading to PZ's rejoinder, which further led to a large number of rather heated comments at Pharyngula. Now, I fully understand that PZ is not necessarily the most subtle or forgiving of commentator, particularly when it comes to dealing with creationists (in fact, he can be downright nasty at times), but the Powerline boys are big blog boys. You'd think they'd have a thicker skin when it comes to being challenged, but apparently they don't.
From the reaction to PZ's comments I've learned a couple of things:
- Powerline is a bit further out on the fringe than I had previously realized. Given my emphasis on skepticism, science, and critical thinking. I'm now debating whether to remove it permanently from my sidebar. I may leave it there, however, because, like it or not, it is an important conservative blog.
- Taking on a big blogger like Hindrocket is liable to be more trouble than it's worth. PZ reports attempted DDoS attacks and foul, profanity-laced e-mails from Powerline readers.
- People like Hindrocket, who clearly have little or no understanding of evolution, should avoid shooting their mouths off on the issue (and making pronouncements about it with such utter certainty) and stick to areas that they are more knowledgeable about. Either that, or they should exercise a little humility when commenting on areas about which they are not experts. Actually, that goes for me, too, which is why I tend to stick to what I know on Respectful Insolence, rather than venturing too far afield. (Of course, occasionally, I can't resist, occasionally to my embarrassment.) This is one of the reasons I rarely, if ever, comment on global warming, for example. I just don't know enough about it to comment in much depth. When and if I do comment on it, you can be sure I will make my readers aware of the limits of my knowledge.