Games Creationists Play: 7 Tricks to Watch Out For

Games Creationists Play: 7 Tricks to Watch Out For January 4, 2016

Creationism Intelligent DesignStephen Meyer isn’t a biologist, but he plays one at the Discovery Institute. He wants to help GOP candidates through the minefield of science denial by answering the tough question, “What Should Politicians Say When Asked About Evolution?” This article provides an opportunity to illustrate a number of popular tricks Creationists play.

Trick #1: Politicians need special rules.  

What triggered Meyer’s article was the response of GOP candidate-to-be Scott Walker to the question, “Do you believe in evolution?” Walker’s response: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another. So I’m going to leave that up to you.”

According to Meyer, this showed Walker to be “unprepared, evasive, and scientifically uninformed.” Meyer next critiques another candidate’s response:

Mike Huckabee, for his part, tried to laugh it off, saying: “If anybody wants to believe that they are the descendants of a primate, they are certainly welcome to do it,” which only made him look evasive and flippant.

No, it mostly made him look ignorant. He is the descendant of a primate because humans are, in fact, primates. Jeez—get an education.

As someone who isn’t a biologist (like Meyer) but who respects science (unlike Meyer), let me offer some advice to conservative candidates. I like that Walker didn’t pretend to be something he wasn’t. He’s a politician, not a biologist.

Consider his constituency. The fraction of Republicans who accept the science, that humans have evolved over time, is only 43%. Incredibly, that’s 11% less than four years earlier (Pew Forum). Evolution denial is becoming an identifying trait of Republicans, and accepting evolution has become a problem for Republican candidates.

Walker could’ve been tougher. He could’ve said that, given that he’s not a scientist, he has no option but to accept the scientific consensus on biology, which is evolution. He could’ve insisted that Republican citizens get their science from scientists rather than religious or political leaders. This could’ve been an opportunity to show how a leader handles a tough situation. But given his reality-averse audience, I suppose his sidestep is about as good as it gets.

Trick #2: “The term ‘evolution’ can mean several different things.” The concept of evolution that is clear in biology class or on the cover of a biology journal suddenly becomes quite slippery and confusing in the hands of Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents. For example, the Creationist ministry of Kent Hovind’s son lectures us that there are six kinds of evolution, including the Big Bang, abiogenesis (the origin of life), and the creation of elements through fusion. (No, I don’t see why the word “evolution” is mandatory for those ideas, either.)

Meyer proposes three definitions that are, in order of increasing controversy, change over time, common descent (which Creationist icon Michael Behe accepts), and what most people would call plain old evolution—the theory that life on earth came to be from random mutation and natural selection without anything supernatural. He does nothing to show that his imagined controversy exists.

My guess is that they like many “evolutions” to show their reasonableness in accepting at least some science-y ideas.

Trick #3: Evolution is controversial—in fact, increasingly so.

To make this claim, Creationists may quote a scientist. Maybe they’ll even quote a biologist. Oddly, they never quote any statistics to show that evolution is losing its respectability.

This idea has been around for decades. The Creationist book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis was published thirty years ago. Maybe Creationists think that if they keep repeating this claim, no one will notice that evolution is still here, with biologists as confident in it as ever.

If anyone doubts that evolution is indeed the consensus, I’ve compiled a long list of quotes from reputable organizations in the appendix at this post.

Trick #4: Declare that a debate about some aspect of evolution is actually a challenge to evolution itself.

Meyer says,

Increasingly, even leading evolutionary theorists question the creative power of its central mechanism of natural selection/random mutation.

A Creationist is the last person I’ll listen to for the scientific consensus within biology. When evolution is overturned, have the biologists tell me. Creationists will say that the truth isn’t decided by a vote. They’re right, but it’s not like we can just compare our scientific theories against the truth. What’s decided by vote is society’s best guess at the truth through scientific consensus. It’s not necessarily right, but that consensus is the best we have.

What Meyer could be saying (it’s unclear to me because he gives no backup for this statement) is that biologists argue about various mechanisms within evolution. I’ll accept that. What this doesn’t translate to is a rejection of evolution.

Trick #5: Look at the polls! The majority of Americans reject evolution. Meyer points to polls that show Americans rejecting evolution.

A huge majority of Americans (and many scientists) reject the third and distinctly controversial meaning of evolution—the idea that the cause of the change over time is an unguided and undirected mechanism.

You say that Americans reject evolution? So what? Unless the subject is the scientific illiteracy of the American public, who cares about the opinions of people who don’t understand the issue?

The vague “many scientists” who reject evolution presumably is a reference to the Disco Institute’s “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” a list of close to a thousand scientists who are “skeptical” of evolution. Yet again, who cares? We don’t consult scientists, we consult biologists. But if you want to play that game, the National Center for Science Education has an even longer list of scientists who accept evolution, limited just to those named Steve (in honor of the late biologist Stephen Jay Gould).

Trick #6: But much of a conservative politician’s constituency reject evolution! Meyer says,

Many conservative candidates are themselves either genuinely skeptical about some aspects of Darwinian evolution … or they are aware that much of their base rejects it. 

When non-scientist politicians won’t accept the scientific consensus, they can’t claim to have a competent opinion. They might also have a hard time accepting quantum physics (which is more counterintuitive than evolution), but they shouldn’t make any policy decisions built on that ignorance.

If this is difficult politically, then the choice is to mirror the flawed thinking of the constituents or take the tough stand for the truth. That conservative politicians often cave doesn’t speak well of how they’d handle the tough issues of public office.

Trick #7: Position the teaching of Creationism/ID as openness and academic freedom.

Meyer poisons the well by labeling the teaching of just evolution in the science classroom as “dogmatic.” He claims that this is an insult to “scientific literacy, academic freedom, and critical thinking.”

This reminds me of Rick Perry on the campaign trail in 2001: “In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools, because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.” That’s a clever spin, but that’s not the way schools work. You dump out the possibilities on a table and say “Figure it out” in the lab, not the classroom. The history of science is often taught, but students are never given flat vs. spherical earth or geocentric vs. heliocentric solar system and encouraged to choose. Perry seems to imagine that biology tests would be ungraded, and students would simply summarize their preferences for what they want to be the case.

Meyer’s article finally devolves into a suggested script for science-denying politicians. It includes agreeing where possible (to some debilitated version of evolution), saying “I’m skeptical” rather than “evolution is wrong,” mentioning “many scientists” while avoiding “the scientific consensus,” handwaving about the importance of understanding the weaknesses in scientific theories, and conflating abiogenesis with evolution.

In short, if the facts aren’t on your side, obfuscate the issue.

Related articles:

The world is suffering more today from the good people
who want to mind other men’s business
than it is from the bad people
who are willing to let everybody
look after their own individual affairs.
— Clarence Darrow, 1908

Image credit: Jakob Lawitzki, flickr, CC


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  • Greg G.

    Trick #3: Evolution is controversial—in fact, increasingly so.

    That trick is older than the Theory of Evolution. In 1825, there was a preacher predicting that gradualism in geology would be overturned in 15 years. I remember hearing in the mid-1970’s that evolution would be overturned within 10 to 15 years. A creationist I worked with told me the same thing in 1995. When I reminded him of his claim in 2010, he denied he ever said it.

    I have a new theory:

    Churches have too much respect for the truth to waste it on people who give them filthy lucre.

    • epicurus

      “When I reminded him of his claim in 2010, he denied he ever said it.”
      That makes me think of the “evolution” of many evangelical practices – Yesterday’s standard doctrine becomes today’s silly outdated practice – women cant be in ministry, belief in everlasting hell, etc.

      • Rikitiki

        The answer to the question “Do you believe in evolution?” should be: “Of course I don’t believe IN evolution! I BELIEVE evolution. You only need to believe IN things that have no evidence, like Santa or unicorns, and other non-evidenced beliefs. Same as I don’t believe IN gravity.”

        • MNb

          Well, I simply don’t believe anything at all. I accept scientific statements.

        • TheNuszAbides

          long before i ever thought i would/could identify as atheisticalized, i had already discovered that the most honest phrasing in many instances was “i have a suspicion that _____” or “as far as i know, _____” rather than “i believe _____”. it didn’t take long to realize that [generally] the “i believe”rs either lacked the relevant intel to back it up and were therefore fools, or were concealing such Special Truth and were therefore scumbags. (then when my pantheist phase ended, so [mostly] did the scumbag hypothesis.)

    • TheNuszAbides

      A creationist I worked with told me the same thing in 1995. When I reminded him of his claim in 2010, he denied he ever said it.

      aww, poor failed prophets. i suppose it’s best they keep their ramblings off the record*–wouldn’t want to give Holy Scripture(TM) a [fresh] black eye!

      *barring amusing coincidences, of course

      Churches have too much respect for the truth to waste it on people who give them filthy lucre.

      cunning! of course those poor flocks can’t earn Ultimate Wisdom merely by surrendering their tainted ~worldly~ (shudder!) earnings.

      • Greg G.

        aww, poor failed prophets. i suppose it’s best they keep their ramblings off the record*–wouldn’t want to give Holy Scripture(TM) a [fresh] black eye!

        You just reminded me that the Bible demands death for failed prophecies. Maybe that’s why he denied it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i hadn’t caught that one! where’s that demand on the timeline?
          gives plenty of delusion-fuel to (a) special pleading for any prophecy that could be read to have failed, (b) the painfully obvious convenience of so few prophecies (any Official Scripture(TM)-al ones?) having an explicit time frame.

        • epicurus

          The most important prophecy, by the most important person, had an explicit time frame: one Generation. And it failed. Luke 21:32, Matt 16:28.

        • TheNuszAbides

          no surprise that it’s ignored by all of the Christians I was raised by/with. it was always all about the retrofitted OT prophecies (without which there’s hardly any excuse for the ‘whole’ bible to drag along the OT in the first place).

        • epicurus

          Definitely retrofitted. And even beyond that, are the prophecies like a virgin birth, taken both out of context AND from a greek translation instead of the original Hebrew, which did not use the word virgin. With the Renasiannce and Protestant Reformation emphasis on getting back to the original languages, kind of funny how that never came up. Funny, but not surprising, because of course how could they do otherwise. Try denying the virgin birth in 1550 no matter what the original text says. Hope you like being burned alive.

        • adam

  • powellpower

    Trick #4: Declare that a debate about some aspect of evolution is actually a challenge to evolution itself.

    This I believe is due to the fact that debate about some aspect of Christianity is actually a challenge to Christianity itself. Most Christians live and die by the bible – it’s wholly true or wholly false unfortunately.

    So they think this applies to evolution (or any other branch of science) as well.

    Hilarious.

  • wtfwjtd

    What’s both funny and ironic, is the fact that religion itself “evolves” over time, as counter-apologists such as Bob have shown over and over. Far from science backpedaling from the theory of evolution, it’s been religion that has been forced to adapt its stances over time concerning the theory, so as to avoid looking too foolish.

    This vid by Baba Brinkman on the subject is pure genius:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alxrbs0xPI4

  • Bk Bk

    Evolution is not a proven theory….

    P. Lemoine, president of the Geological Society of France concluded:

    “The theories of evolution, with which our studious youth have been
    deceived, constitute actually a dogma that all the world continues to
    teach: but each, in his specialty, the zoologist or the botanist,
    ascertains that none of the explanations furnished is adequate. … It
    results from the summary, that the theory of evolution, is impossible.”

    • Greg G.

      There is no such thing as a proven scientific theory.

      Paul Lemoine was a geologist, not a biologist, not an archaeologist. He died in 1940.

      • Bk Bk

        Darwin died before 1940 and you believe his work?

        Evolution is not a theory that is confirmed as true – just speculation only.

        • Greg G.

          Darwin understood the evidence.

          Evolution has more supporting evidence than any other theory. Evolution makes predictions that are confirmed.

          Scientists can find transitional fossils for sequences of species moving from a water habitat to a land habitat or vice versa when they can date fossils of animals that have some similar features that are prior to the transition and after the transition. Then they find exposed rock that was a shoreline at an age intermediate between them. That is how they found Tiktaalik, whale transitionals, and frog ancestors.

          You should actually read some actual books outside of creationism. Try doing it to look for the kind of quotes creationists cite from evolutionists. I suggest Neil Shubin books. He found Tiktaalik.

          See the quote in context and see if it represents what the author was saying or if it is a quotemine that distorts what the author actually said. You will find that the creationist authors are not honest.

        • Leloi

          You are confusing scientific theory with hypothesis. Hypothesis is an educated guess. Scientific theory is accepted as fact due to rigorous experiment. Example… Theory of gravity. If you drop a rock while standing on earth does it sometimes fly away?

        • I like the germ theory of disease because we’re all familiar with it. The idea that disease can be caused by microscopic germs is “just” a scientific theory.

        • Who cares about Darwin? His work is historically very important, but no one consults his writings to make sure a new hypothesis comports with the great man’s work.

          Evolution is what biologists today say.

        • Leloi

          To add on to you: One reason we don’t consult Darwin’s book is because DNA hadn’t been discovered yet. That came much later. There is no way for him to know about breakthroughs in understanding genetics and DNA that would come after he was dead. He knew something was passed down from parent to child but he didn’t know how or what. One example of his error in thinking was to explain how giraffes as a species evolved long necks. We don’t hold that against him, there is no way he could have known.

          Scientists aren’t satisfied with one book giving a final, perfect, answer. They like to go look for themselves or explore. If Alain Beauvilain had been satisfied with the Leakeys telling him that all the early hominids were in east Africa he never would have looked in Chad and found Sahelanthropus tchadensis. Scientists are rebellious like that.

        • I think Christians like to imagine that atheists hang on Darwin’s every word as gospel because they do that themselves with their icons–individual pastors or the Bible.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i just realized that the bumper/t-shirt “darwin fish” must inadvertently contribute to this error. projecting morals into Divine Command, projecting their own smuggled idolatry onto the mere amusement of opponents.

        • I like the capital-T Truth. You just can’t argue with that.

        • Dys

          Theories don’t get proven. It’s a scientific theory – one which doesn’t currently have any viable alternative.

          Additionally, Darwin got a lot of things wrong about evolution. But that’s the thing about scientific theories – they have to adapt to new information and discoveries. The theory of evolution that Darwin described is not the modern theory of evolution at all.

          Oh, and Paul Lemoine’s anti-evolution quote is dealt with here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ce/3/part12.html

          It seems that he wasn’t so much opposed to the general idea of evolution as he was to the specifics of how it occurred.

          And finally, it’s the religious position on origins that’s complete speculation – religiously motivated, with no real regard to reality.

        • MNb

          Gravity and electricity are nto theories that are confirmed as true either. “True” the way you use it is a meaningless word in science. Hence your conclusion “just speculation only” is invalid.
          Plus I understand gravity quite well – but never have read what Isaac Newton wrote about it.

    • MNb

      Gravity and electricity are not proven theories either. Still I doubt that you will jump off a high tower or stick your fingers in a plug-socket.

      • TheNuszAbides

        those sects somehow aren’t as durable as the serpent-handlers.

        • MNb

          That one receives a genuine, heartfelt LOL!

    • RichardSRussell

      No, evolution is a proven fact! The best hypothesis we have to explain that fact is natural selection from a genetically diverse set of ancestors. And when a hypothesis consistently proves able to robustly explain a wide range of available facts and to make valid predictions for what will be discovered in the future — besting all competing hypotheses and withstanding all attempts to falsify it — it gets elevated to the pinnacle of scientific respectability and is labeled a “theory”.

      Here are some useful quotations on the subject:

      = = = = = =

      Here are 3 trigger phrases which will tip you off to not waste your time reading anything further from an obvious ignoramus:
      • just a theory
      • still a theory
      • only a theory

      Such putdowns are never offered up with respect to the theory of optics, the germ theory of disease, the atomic theory of matter, thermodynamic theory, the theory of relativity, quantum mechanical theory, the theory of plate tectonics, the theory of gravitation, etc.; they only get trotted out with respect to evolution, and invariably by people who have no idea how scientists use the word “theory”.

      = = = = = =

      There never comes a point where a theory can be said to be true. The most that one can claim for any theory is that it has shared the successes of all its rivals and that it has passed at least one test which they have failed.

      —Sir Alfred Jules Ayer (1910–1989), British philosopher, Philosophy in the Twentieth Century, ch. 4 (1982)

      = = = = = =

      The theory of evolution explains how life on Earth has changed. In scientific terms, “theory” does not mean “guess” or “hunch” as it does in everyday usage. Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses. Biological evolution is the best scientific explanation we have for the enormous range of observations about the living world. … The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong.

      — National Academy of Sciences

      = = = = = =

      Theory is when you have ideas.
      Theology is when ideas have you.

      • MNb

        “…. a proven fact! The best hypothesis ….”
        And that’s why I don’t like Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science. First it’s a fact, then it’s the best hypothesis. It gives creationists (who are dishonest by default) an opportunity to start playing word games. I’m not saying you’re incorrect (there is no correct or incorrect here); I’m just telling why I don’t like it.
        I prefer continental philosophy of science. Facts are empirical data: fossils, observed speciation, mutations. Then evolution, just like gravity and electricity, are abstract concepts used to correctly describe that wide variety of facts.

        “will tip you off to not waste your time reading anything further”
        The tip is 100% reliable, but I use it for the opposite: it tips me to expect more funny stupidties and I wouldn’t want to miss them.

        • RichardSRussell

          The distinction I’m trying to draw here is between the observable fact that one species can indeed change into another (most easily noted in fast-mutating bacteria, much less so in decades-generation species like homo sapiens) and the explanation for how that change occurs. I think it’s unfortunate that the latter has come to be known as the “theory of evolution”, which implies that it’s evolution that’s the theory. It’s not. The theory is the explanation that evolution occurs as a result of natural selection. That’s why I recommend the locution “theory about evolution”.

        • MNb

          “The distinction I’m trying to draw”
          is a superfluous one in continental philosophy of science, because facts are observable by definition. By means of induction you can draw conclusions.
          Explanations at the other hand also by definition belong to theories, laws, hypotheses etc. By means of deduction you can draw conclusions again, preferably testable ones.
          And if the conclusions reached by induction and deduction are the same (which is not always the case; see my beloved superconductivity at relatively high temperatures) we can say we have gained knowledge.
          So I don’t need to make a distinction between a theory of and a theory about evolution either. On continental philosophy of science that’s meaningless.
          Again that’s not to say that Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science is incorrect. It isn’t. It’s exactly as capable of addressing pseudoscience like creacrap as the continental version. But you just confirmed that it needs more complicated language to do so. Hence I stick to the continental version. I think it’s easier.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I recommend the locution “theory about evolution”.

          noted–i’ll endeavor to remember that one.

  • Kodie

    What exactly about evolution being true scares these people so much? And, how can we marginalize them more effectively?

    • MNb

      “scares”
      I ain’t no kin of no monkey. It’s a form of human arrogance, stimulated by the christian idea that god thinks humans special.

      “marginalize”
      There is no simple answer. There are several strategies that must be followed.
      1. Evolutionary biologists must keep on explaining what Evolution Theory actually is. TalkOrigins is great, but stuff like the contents of Why Evolution is True and What the Fossils say and Why it Matters must be easily accessible as well.
      2. Evolutionary biologists and scientists in general should not debate creationists, not even on internet. They must just provide all the necessary information (see 4 and 5).
      3. However (here I deviate from many atheists) people like Bill Nye can debate creationists if they focus on informing and explaining Evolution Theory and don’t get involved in silly arguments. During “debates” they must just ignore all creacrap.
      4. Actual debates with creationists should be left to non-experts – anyone who feels like and think he/she can pull it off. Like me. Our task is to expose the lies and to correct/mock their nonsense. Of course we’ll sometimes fail. I have failed a couple of times. But we are willing and capable to learn, so we’ll look up relevant information and do better next time. I have learned useful tricks from The Sensuous Curmudgeon. The reason we must do it is because unlike scientists we are not bound by the rules of science and can play the game as dirty and mean as they do.
      However exactly here we must accept progressive Christians as our allies. In my experience creationists especially don’t like the examples of Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, exactly because they show that you can be christian and accept Evolution Theory just fine.
      5. We need people like Zack Kopplin to keep creacrap out of science class.
      6. Finally we must have patience.

      • L.Long

        “i aint from no monkey!” It may be that we should point out to these scared people that the buyBull states that we are formed from worm shit, which do you like better?

    • rascal barquecat

      Basically, for YEC literalists and fundamentalists, if they accept that the population of hominids never was and never could have been only 2 creatures, their entire mythology completely unravels. Without Adam & Eve being created and eating the fruit of knowledge, the concept of original sin disappears and with it the entire requirement for salvation by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.

      One of the most effective ways to marginalize them is to staunchly support the separation of church and state and not allow their myths to be taught in our public school science classrooms. Another is to organize and energize people to get off their duffs and vote to keep us from sliding further into a theocracy.

      (edit – clarification and added a missing never)

    • TheNuszAbides

      What exactly about evolution being true scares these people so much?

      the bald defiance/contradiction of scriptural authority is at the ultimate core of whatever rationalizations any fundie comes up with. the “i ain’t no kin of no monkey” can certainly be an additional ‘disgust’ factor, but that overlaps with various non-theists who are similarly ignorant/suspicious of actual scientific progress (and have either residual religious indoctrination, or none at all and are simply superstitious/species-elitist by default).

  • Leloi

    I went back to college to work on an art degree. I took a lot of classes in anthropology and archaeology while I was there… Because art history overlaps cultural anthropology. I was in sculpting class when a classmate asked me about my class load. She found out I was taking anthropology and announced “we’re not monkeys! Why are there still monkeys? HUH?” My first thought was “how will she survive biology class???” But I said, “monkeys are our cousins, we share a common ancestor. You share a common grandparent with your cousins and we share a common ancestor with monkeys.” She still didn’t “get it” and said we should agree to disagree… Except I earned a solid A in anthropology that semester. She would have flunked.

    • Greg G.

      I think that the parent species of whatever species split off to become apes would have been considered a monkey as well as all the ancestors going back to the split between Old World monkeys and New World monkeys.

      I’m curious about your handle because I had my picture taken leaning against Le Loi street signs in three cities in Vietnam last year.

      • Leloi

        Old World monkeys and New World monkeys are very different. Old World monkeys have more in common with apes. There’s teeth and noses, etc.

        When we learned about Sahelanthropus tchadensis we found out that things get kinda blurry. Was it an ape or an early hominid? Does it really matter? That seemed to be the theme… With the number of transitions they found it gets blurry and we’re not really sure. Teacher had a great time trying to see where we would “draw the line.” Parabolic dental arch? Standing upright? You see a bunch of skulls… Which one is our ancestor and which one is a dead end? Or are those both dead ends and what we came from hasn’t been found yet? It was a great class. We could assemble a skeleton in less than 5 minutes.

        Leloi is a pen name I’ve had for about 20 years. I read it in a book while I was dreaming. It stuck with me ever since. It’s also made up of letters from my middle name, Louise.

        • Greg G.

          Old World monkeys and New World monkeys split about 55 million years ago. Their common ancestor would have been a monkey or else monkeys evolved twice. Since apes split from Old World monkeys, ape ancestors were monkeys. Since humans are apes, our ancestors were monkeys.

          Saying that we have a common ancestor with monkeys is technically true but it shouldn’t be taken to mean that humans did not evolve from monkeys because our common ancestors with monkeys were monkeys themselves. It seems to be some wordplay to get around creationist objections.

        • Leloi

          They did. Higher on the family tree are prosimians. New world monkeys have a dental formula of 2.1.3.3 or 2.1.3.2. Old world monkeys, apes and humans have a dental formula of 2.1.2.3. So old world, apes, and humans are closer related since we have the same dental formula. Sometime when the continents split apart our common ancestor monkey lost a premolar and monkeys on the other side of the sea kept theirs. Other placental mammals generally have 3.1.4.3. dental formula.

        • Greg G.

          I knew there were differences between Old and New World monkeys besides the prehensile tail but simian dental plans are something I didn’t know.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Aron Ra has a fairly brief clarifying lecture that includes a sample of Eddie Izzard: “… you’re a fuckin’ monkey, mate.” i keep forgetting to check whether the pedantic miscorrection “nuh-uh, apes” has been added to wikip’s common misconceptions list.

    • RichardSRussell

      Q: “If we’re descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

      A: “If you’re descended from your parents, why do you still have parents?”

      • Greg G.

        If we are made of dust, why is there still dust?

      • Thought2Much

        If Christianity came from Judaism, why is there still Judaism?

        • TheNuszAbides

          that one’ll call up some horrific answers in the minds of the uglier hypertribalists.

    • Dannorth

      If asked that question I would first reply with another question: why do you think that the fact that humans are descended from apelike ancestors implies that there shouldn’t remain other apes or monkeys.

      The reason being that the person doing the asking in the first place needs to understand the question to have any hope of understanding the answer.

      • Greg G.

        Right. We descend from all monkeys, just certain ones. Of course the monkeys of today evolved from different monkeys that were living 35 million years ago.

  • MNb

    My only complaint is that I actually counted more than 7 tricks, including lying (in the narrow sense of the word), mine-quoting, deliberate ambiguity and hypocrisy.

  • RichardSRussell

    The Onion came up with a lampoon of something similar re the American public’s obstinate refusal to recognize the scientific consensus in another matter, namely climate change.

  • Ol’ Hippy

    I very recently read a new hypothesis of another mechanism driving speciation. Steve Gould didn’t live long enough to solve one of his dilemmas, punctuated equilibrium. The genome very occasionally goes through a chromosome recombination and then natural selection weeds out the ones non viable to survive. Science apparently has taken a back seat in schools since the cold war ended. Now would be a good time to get back on track and let these idiots quit trying to put worthless junk-non-science in schools. They should be ashamed.

  • MNb
  • TheNuszAbides

    Trick #4: Declare that a debate about some aspect of evolution is actually a challenge to evolution itself.

    talk about ‘hoist-by-own-petard’ syndrome! (what weakens “goddidit” if not the existence of, uh, more than one conflicting theological treatise? councils of bishops? protestant reformation? book of mormon? karaites? mu’tazilites? i know, i know, all merely righteous reactions to The Great Deceiver’s machinations …)
    perhaps the only theists whom this premise wouldn’t bite in the ass are the ‘Jesus was the greatest rebel ever’ types–who, credulous as they might be, at least tend to question institutionalized ‘authority’. i marvel (albeit in a depressive way) at the Catholic specimens in particular.