February 02, 2008

Radio Program: PZ Myers Fisks Creationist Geoffrey Simmons on KKMS

I'm not sure what to call the interaction that occurred on KKMS Christian radio between biologist PZ Myers and author and Discovery Institute Fellow Geoffrey Simmons. Calling it a debate would be far too generous; debates involve facts and nothing Simmons presented was a fact. Ignorance and dishonesty, certainly, but if we are to define a "fact" as something that exists in the real world, Simmons never gets around to any of them. Perhaps "discussion" is the closest word we have in English, although I'm inclined toward "spanking" to describe what PZ did to Simmons. Don't take my word for it, though. Listen for yourself.

Simmons is clearly ignorant about any factual topic brought up. I'm not a paleontologist and the sum of my knowledge about whales wouldn't fill a coffee cup, but even I know that no scientist proposes that the fossil record of the lineage resulting in modern whales jumped from Indohyus to the present diversity. Simmons insists that none of this exists but bristles at being called ignorant on the subject, as PZ did, and was backed up by one of the talk show hosts ("Let's keep this civil...") If he's not ignorant, then he's a liar. He must be one or the other, since what he has said and written about the subject is absolutely at odds with what actually exists. Nor is it uncivil to say that someone is ignorant on a particular subject. That Simmons on these hosts think it is smacks of exactly the kind of "political correctness" that they complain about in the course of this very broadcast. To be plain about it, Simmons is full of crap and, not content with being full of it himself seeks to spread it around. That he could publish a book alleging that "no transitional forms exist" in the fossil record to demonstrate the evolutionary history of cetaceans speaks loudly to his own hubris. He hasn't even bothered doing the smallest amount of homework; it took me about 10 seconds to find Philip Gingrich's website. Simmons apparently doesn't think the topic is important enough to warrant even that much effort, but he feels justified in writing a book in which his own ignorance apparently stands in as evidence for his argument.

That's appalling, and it's also demonstrative of a basic principle in Intelligent Design Creationism. The purpose of IDC is nothing to do with increasing our understanding of the world. It's all about doing whatever it takes to bring the world down to a level of ignorance matching their own. Aside from the religious angle of Designism, there is also the hubris of its proponents. They make assertions without knowing the facts and then attempt to hide those facts from the people they wish to influence.

How else can one explain the deletion of a thread on Uncommon Descent, the Internet nexus for Designists to meet-n-bleat? On that heavily edited board, a discussion thread started by the Designists themselves regarding the Myers/Simmons "debate" was deleted by the editor when the Designists themselves started expressing their opinion that they were "...disappointed by Dr. Simmons’ arguments and performance and think PZ easily won the debate... hopefully they’ll choose someone else for the anti-Darwin side next time." That thread is preserved here. It is still rife with misinformation and complete nonsense (the fossil record is "jerky" and we don't know anything about the evolution of the brain, blah blah blah), but it's critical of Simmons.

Can't have that! Down the memory hole. Designists automatically win every debate before it even starts... didn't you know?

Is there no point at which the Designist followers come to realize that they are being led about by the noses by a leadership that starts from a position of complete ignorance on the best of days and one of Orwellian disinformation on all the others?

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