So I went to see Contagion last weekend. The first thing I did afterwards was lash out at and threaten our followers on Twitter for no good reason. The second thing I did was check out what the alternative medicine crowd thought of it. I thought it’d be fun to see how angry they were over certain aspects, but what I found was even more disturbing than what I expected. [EDIT: Spoilers ahead!]
In the movie Jude Law plays a homeopathy salesman / blogger named Alan Krumwiede who is exposed for the fraud he is in the end. He helps create panic over the epidemic, profits off of it, and then accuses “big pharma” and the government of doing exactly that while portraying himself as a tireless crusader against corruption. When he’s arrested after a hedge fund manager wears a wire to bust him for fraud, manslaughter, and other charges, his devout followers pool their money to bail him out like any cult would for its leader. In other words it’s just like real life.
So I was pretty surprised to come across this blog post from a website called “Homeopathy World,” run by someone named Mary Aspinwall. It’s basically a toned-down version of the Krumwiede character’s blog, “Truth Serum Now.” Mary is mostly happy with how homeopathy is portrayed in the movie because she’s apparently so devoted to the alternative medicine mythology that cognitive dissonance prevented her from understanding the Krumwiede storyline.
To be fair, Contagion doesn’t revolve around Krumwiede. It’s a Steven Soderbergh film, and it’s very similar in its decentralized structure to Syriana and Traffic. There really isn’t a main character and the parallel narratives give more of a ‘big picture’ perspective than most movies. So you’ve got the widower of America’s patient zero (Matt Damon) dealing with the loss of his wife and son, doctors at the CDC (Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne) trying to do the best they can with the bureaucracy they have, a WHO epidemiologist (Marion Cotillard) investigating the origins of the disease, and so on. So it’s understandable that someone wouldn’t get parts of the story, but not so much if it’s the one aspect of it in which you’re supposed to be especially interested.
The way in which Aspinwall misunderstands the story is a great microcosm of how alternative medicine conspiracy theorists misunderstand the way science works. Plot points which reinforce her beliefs are blown up way out of proportion and the rest are ignored. Here’s what she thinks happened:
Alan is highly suspicious of the motives of pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. When he himself falls sick he chooses an alternative route, dosing himself with a (fictitious) natural remedy called “Forsythia”on his vlog (video log). After making a rapid online recovery he begins to attract millions of hits, as people desperately try to get information and protect themselves from the virus, which is killing one in four people who contract it within days.
Law’s character doesn’t fall sick. It’s revealed that he was faking the symptoms at the end. When the authorities confront him with his test results which prove this, Alan replies by saying something like, “Well, of course your tests would say that” in a cold tone which implied that that would be his official defense against their allegations. Even if he were just honestly mistaken about his treatment’s efficacy, he should still be surprised that any tests would show he never was sick – unless, of course, he were faking his symptoms all along.
Another sign that Alan is knowingly lying comes earlier in the film when he meets up with an unidentified woman he seems to care greatly for. She asks him for his magic potion and he tells her that he has none left because his house was robbed. The way he struggled with telling her this hinted that he was probably lying. At first I thought this was a lie born out of greed, but that’s too simple. Too much of a cheap shot.
If you were totally dishonest and making a living out of selling fake medicine to gullible people, would you recommend your own product to people you really cared about? Probably not. You probably wouldn’t bring it up at all. And if things got really desperate, like they do in Contagion, you’d probably find some way to nudge them towards going with an effective treatment without simply telling them that you’re a snake oil salesman. That’s exactly what Alan does with his lady friend.
If the alt-med worldview is the one Soderbergh adopts here, which is what Aspinwall believes, then these two scenes make no sense at all. But alternative medicine and things that don’t make sense kind of go together. If I made a Venn Diagram of the two, it would just be one circle inside another.
If you’re still not convinced Alan was a con man, look at this. It’s actually a screenshot from Aspinwall’s blog with a still from the movie:
Alan’s shown wearing this kind of get-up throughout much of the movie, and almost exclusively after he’s already “cured himself.” But why does the inventor and supplier of the cure need to protect himself so much more thoroughly than pretty much anyone else in the movie? If he comes down with symptoms again, he could just drink some of his magical tap water and be cured. Soderbergh’s practically bashing the audience over the head with the idea that Alan’s a liar, but Aspinwall’s blinding herself to all of this and concluding that Alan “does come across as genuine in his beliefs.”
Here’s another funny part of her review:
At one dramatic high point he even catches a high-ranking government spokesman in an out right [sic] lie on live TV.
This is technically true. Laurence Fishburne’s character warned a family member on Facebook to leave her city before news of the massive outbreak and ensuing panic. It’s pretty unethical, but also understandable under the circumstances. It also has absolutely nothing to do with who is right in regards to the science. The entire government could be building an underground city for high-ranking officials with a 10:1 female-to-male ratio a la Dr. Strangelove and it still wouldn’t make Alan’s customer testimonies more reliable than actual epidemiological research.
Oblivious to irony, Aspinwall then pitches her homeopathy kit at the end of her review. When your own way of making a living is so similar to a movie villain, you can either acknowledge that you’re an awful person and try to change or you can do your own revision of the movie and turn the villain into a hero. And it’s pretty clear which option homeopaths prefer.
Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” This makes no fucking sense because truth is a quality of a statement which describes its factual accuracy and isn’t a human being which might wear shoes. But he might have been trying to point out how easily it is to make false statements and misrepresent the truth compared to the effort required to correct the lies.
Bryan Fischer is a living case study of this phenomenon. He’s the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, which is the organization which collaborated with Texas Governor Rick Perry in throwing their little rain dance / prayer rally last month. He’s also very active on The Twitter, spending maybe an hour or two every day typing out the most dishonest possible way to attack the gays, Muslims, liberals, moderate Republicans, and bears. That’s actual bears, not big gay dudes. He might be the inspiration for Stephen Colbert’s character’s fear and hatred of the godless killing machines.
“Seriously, you guys.”
For the reasons Twain summed up in the famous quote above, it’s pretty much impossible to refute every single tweet Fischer farts out onto the internet, unless one were to do it as a full-time job. So I thought I’d take his tweets from just one day and counter them. Or maybe just mock them.
Normal people would see this as a total non-sequitur. Not Bryan Fischer! To him, they’re connected. And that’s an elementary school… in Colorado… I think we all know who’s behind this plot:
The article he links to doesn’t say that CAIR essentially endorses him. What it says is that CAIR stated that Perry is “set apart” from other GOP candidates because he has a Muslim friend. He’s apparently the only one who can even say that he’s not bigoted against Muslims because after all some of his best friends are Muslims. And that’s supposed to be some kind of scandal.
This is in no way relevant only to Fischer, but the idea of predicting who the Republican nominee will be at this point is just pointless political masturbation. You can see that just by looking at where we were in the last election cycle at this point.
On September 1, 2007, a Republican candidate named Duncan Hunter won the Texas straw poll with 41% of the vote. Remember Duncan Hunter? Me neither. A few weeks earlier Mitt Romney won a straw poll at the Illinois state fair. Four years minus one day before Fischer twittered this, a television actor and former Senator named Fred Thompson declared his candidacy. I remember being terrified of Thompson for a few weeks after reading this article by Matt Taibbi about him. I was sure Thompson would win the nomination and the general election by appealing to the lucrative ‘dumbfuck’ demographic. But that’s the kind of stupid mistake you make when you speculate this far from the general election.
Law & Order & Failed Campaigns
And what about the eventual Republican nominee, John McCain? Just two months before this point in the election cycle, McCain fired 100 staffers due to severe financial problems. Later that month, his chief strategist and his campaign manager resigned.
If Fischer were twittering around that time he’d have been pompously declaring one of those “frontrunners” the one true candidate for the extreme wing of the conservative Republicans. Probably he’d have gone with Thompson, since they’re around the same age and he would probably have secret buttsecks with Fischer with a lot of discretion.
First of all, the article he’s citing mentions Christians in exactly one paragraph, and it doesn’t mention anything about Muslims starving them to death. What it does say is that there are about 1,000 Christians in all of Somalia, and some Muslims are tracking down and killing the few of them who are Muslim apostates. So Fischer’s lying about the starvation thing, but it’s not like he even needed to do so. What’s actually happening – at least according to the article he cites – should be bad enough for him to complain about. But apparently his persecution complex has an inexhaustible appetite for bullshit.
The actual substance of the article – if it can be said to have any at all – is that the famine in Somalia is not caused by the drought. It’s really al Qaeda’s fault. And of course it’s important to note that global politics can be extremely complicated and there are a lot of factors to consider. It’s not just the drought; Somalia has also for a long time had basically no functioning government. And like their fellow conservatives here in America, fundamentalist Muslims are opposed to humanitarian work when it’s done by the United Nations.
So it’s not entirely inaccurate to say that a large part of the problem in Somalia is that there’s no system of support for poor, starving people, and that part of that problem is due to Islamic militants. But the author here (Rachel Alexander of the unintentionally hilarious Townhall website) wants to disregard the drought and famine altogether so she can wrap up the problem in Somalia in a neat little package and call it al Qaeda. The sub-heading is “Al-Qaeda Affiliate, not Famine, is Responsible for Somalian Genocide” (emphasis mine).
Who is this Left person? Does he mean Lefter Küçükandonyadis, the 1950s Turkish soccer player? Or maybe he means the Greek author Lefteris Hapsiadis. The world may never know.
Of course Fischer’s just using a straw man here. He hears liberals complaining about all the racist things teabaggers do and say and all the racist signs they bring to their rallies and since he doesn’t find the racism too objectionable he concludes that all progressives think all of Obama’s critics are racist.
I can only really speculate here, but Fischer’s probably thinks he’s pointing out some kind of hypocrisy here, and that Salon and Darryl Hannah are equally racist as, oh, I don’t know, the 46% of Mississippi Republicans who think interracial marriage should be outlawed. Fischer lives in Tupelo, MS, by the way.
Well, I have checked and nobody has registered BryanFischer.xxx yet. So let’s get to it, people! He’s pretty much asking for it.
One problem here is that UPS is also unionized. I should know seeing that I actually work there. UPS workers belong to the Teamsters Union, which is probably the most powerful one in the United States – not that that’s saying very much. So if it were the case that unions are responsible for the USPS financial troubles, then UPS would be in even worse shape.
Another really bothersome aspect of this is how he seems to think it’s a terrible idea to have a large majority of an institution’s budget going to “labor costs.” If only they didn’t pay so much for workers to provide goods and services and paid more to the worthless bureaucrats and middle-management parasites, then all of this would have been avoided.
For the details on how the right-wing attack on the USPS is an attack on organized labor, I’d recommend checking out Allison Kilkenny’s recent article in truthout.
You also won’t find anything in the Constitution mentioning an Air Force. We could probably fund more than a few USPSes if we stopped spending such ridiculous amounts of money on planes and drones for the military.
Of course the most egregious part of this one is Fischer’s using the “Got your X right here” formula. So that implies that he’s saying that while grabbing his junk. So not only is he making a highly questionable claim – that he actually has genitalia – he’s forcing us to consider what it looks like, in the highly unlikely event that it exists.
The next rat to be smelled here is that the link he gives goes to the Moonie Times, which I thought hasn’t existed for a while now. Here is how the cult newspaper article starts off:
Jihadists among the Libyan rebels revealed plans last week on the Internet to subvert the post-Moammar Gadhafi government and create an Islamist state, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Hold the presses, people! They have said something on the internet! But even the Moonie Times isn’t dishonest enough to leave it at that:
Some U.S. officials sought to play down the remarks by noting that such Internet postings are not always accurate measures of jihadist plans.
You mean when someone says something on an internet forum, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true? Golly!
Twitter is a pretty great tool for journalists. Not only is it good for networking, but the 140 character limit really helps you be more concise. Never use a long word when a short one will do, that sort of thing. Instead of “boom years of ’93-’00,” he could have said “under Clinton” and saved a few characters.
This one falls into the category of outright lying. There was a Muslim Family Day at that venue, but it turns out it took place on September 4. In a rare moment of a conservative acknowledging objective reality, Fischer later corrected himself:
But by the point the damage had been done. Right-wing blogs ran with it, occasionally bothering to change the wording from “Muslims celebrate on 9/11″ to “Muslims celebrate sometime near 9/11.” Soon these people will start getting offended by any gathering of Muslims in the late summer until winter.
He probably should have also pointed out that Muslim Family Day has been going on since September of 2000, a full year before the 9/11 attacks, so his theory about it being a terrorism party doesn’t really make sense.
But that won’t matter. For guys like this, being proved wrong by the facts won’t change his mind. It’s he cared about the facts, he would have changed his mind about Muslims. If they have a Muslim Family Day on September 11, then it’s grotesque. But if they have a Muslim Family Day on September 4, it’s… still grotesque. To Bryan Fischer, it’s important that the Muslims lose either way.
There were actually a few more of these, but this idiot has eaten up too much of my time already.
How I Won The War On Terror For America By Adopting A Dog (You’re Welcome)
I don’t want to be one of those internet writers who write about their pets and do “Sundog” blog posts, but there’s a pretty weird story which needs to be told about how I got her. This is my new friend Darwin:
Even though Darwin sounds more like a name for guys, she’s a mixed beagle so I thought it was appropriate. Sometimes I call her a muggle.
Anyway, I got this dog from a lady who works with my sister. She was dog-sitting her for a friend of her’s who went to Afghanistan. Apparently he isn’t in the military and didn’t go to work for a contractor. He just decided to go to Afghanistan. And now he’s decided he’s not coming back, so this friend of my sister wanted to get rid of this dog since she already has two others.
I told this story to a friend. “You mean your dog is, like, the American Taliban?”
“I guess so,” I responded. “So now I have to show her that Our Way Of Life is superior.”
She likes to lie down facing East several times a day. She has a “bed” which looks suspiciously like one of those prayer rugs they have in mosques. She doesn’t like to eat fruit, presumably on the grounds that such decadent Western blueberries are surely diverting praise from the One True God Allah and His Prophet Mohammed. And the fact that her previous owners named her Bella – that’s her slave name – makes me suspect even more that she must have been a terrorist of some type in her past. Sometime in the past year or so, I guess.
On the other hand, she’s been adjusting well to living in a secular home. She’s thwarted numerous attempts on my life so far, mostly from the UPS guy or the neighbors’ dogs. She’s eaten those imitation bacon treats which I’m pretty sure have some pork in them, even though the Koran explicitly forbids it. She’s even tried to edit some of the blasphemous, progressive stuff I’ve been writing lately, although I have to reject most of her ideas. Especially “=-,” which she pitches each time she jumps up on my chair.
Anyway, that’s what I’m doing to fight the War on Terror: adopting a extremist Muslim dog and helping her appreciate secular Western culture and values. And now with one less mujahideen beagle mutt, al Qaeda is surely defeated.
On the Origin of Conspiracy Theories By Means of Natural Stupidity
Happy 9/11 anniversary everyone! This year is going to be extra special because we have ten fingers and we’ve set up our numerical system based on that arbitrary amount. The news media is going to capitalize on this hard: Fox News has a special on it about how George W. Bush killed Osama bin Laden on September 12 with only night-vision goggles and a sword. MSNBC has one about how we antagonized the Muslim world by locking up “suspected terrorists” indefinitely without charges and invading a few Middle Eastern countries. And the most outrageous of the tragedy opportunists are planning a march in Manhattan to mark the 10 year anniversary of everyone’s favorite act of mass murder.
Well, there’s no way we at The BEAST are going to pass on this moneymaking opportunity, so here are some ways in which everyone’s favorite paranoid conspiracy nuts are like a different group of paranoid conspiracy nuts. Enjoy!
There are a lot of petitions on the internet tubes. It’s rare that they accomplish anything, but usually they at least have a clear purpose. And then you’ve got groups like the Discovery Institute and Patriots Question 9/11.
Back in 2001 the Discovery Institute released a statement titled A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. It was signed by over 700 scientists (as of 2007) who claimed to be “skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.”
Patriots Question 9/11 has also been compiling signatures, except each person who signs is supposed to write their own statement. This might be more democratic, but it also kind of defeats the purpose of having a petition in the first place. Everyone’s signing their name to different positions. So we’re talking about a spectrum of beliefs ranging from the somewhat reasonable, “I have significant criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report,” all the way over to collecting-your-piss-in-jars insane, “There were no planes, those were holographs.” They’ve only appeared to have gathered around 3500 signatures worldwide. On the internet.
The first problem with this approach is that you can’t successfully promote a scientific hypothesis by collecting signatures. You win these kinds of arguments by using evidence. And while it’s worthwhile to note when there’s an overwhelming consensus of relevant experts on a matter, these internet petitions use the widest possible definition of “scientist” or “engineer” conceivable. Are you a college freshman who happened to check off Engineering as a major on your admissions paperwork? Great! You qualify as an expert and your crackpot opinions about how George W. Bush done did that there 9/11 and a magical being created itself and then created all life on Earth somehow matters, according to the morons at Patriots Question 9/11 and the DI.
Even if the petition gatherers limited themselves to the relevant experts and emphasized the point that their petitions do not qualify as evidence, they would still fail. According to Denis Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers in their book Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins, the 700 signatures gathered by the DI only represents 0.023% of scientists in the world. That means that 99.977% of scientists either have no problem with “Darwinism” or are too embarrassed to associate themselves with the clowns at the Discovery Institute.
Science via Mystery-mongering
Another logical fallacy both groups enjoy using is the appeal to ignorance. Here is how the retarded man-child Ann Coulter reiterates the same creationist PRATT she read in one of Michael Behe’s books:
It is a mathematical impossibility, for example, that all 30 to 40 parts of the cell’s flagellum — forget the 200 parts of the cilium! — could all arise at once by random mutation.
Once you get past the lie (i.e. that it really is mathematically impossible for the bacterial flagellum to evolve), we’re left with a standard God of the Gaps argument: If scientists can’t demonstrate exactly how it evolved, it must have been created. If evolutionary theory fails, then creationist beliefs win by default. It’s a shame that it never seems to work the other way around; that whenever creationist arguments fail, evolution is automatically vindicated.
But what makes this an even worse argument is the fact that empirical experiments have shown how the flagellum and the cilium (!) evolved. As I understand it, what gives these structures the illusion of design is something called interlocking complexity. Interlocking complexity means that you have several components of a structure, each of which appear to be useless on its own relative to the function of the overall structure. But — and this is the important part creationists can’t seem to comprehend — each of the components had a function on its own which was completely divorced from what it would do as a part of a greater whole.
Ken Miller made this point in a much better way than I could in his expert testimony at the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case. The creationist Michael Behe used a mousetrap as an analogy for his beliefs about the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum, claiming that each part of a mousetrap would be useless on its own and therefore the mousetrap must have been designed by an intelligent agent. Miller pointed out several uses for each part of a mousetrap, including by using a partial mousetrap as a clip for his tie during the proceedings. Even in the world of metaphor the creationists’ arguments end up turning on themselves.
But now I’ve strayed far from the original point, which was that demonstrating that we don’t know something, even if done successfully, can’t possibly prove anything beyond the fact that we don’t know something. It shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently it does. You can’t go directly from “I don’t know X” to “I can explain X with Y theory,” unless you have some evidence to support Y.
My favorite way the appeal to ignorance is used in 9/11 Troofer lore has to do with WTC Building 7 (nevar forget!). Truthers love to point out that the BBC reported its collapse 20 minutes before it actually happened. Even worse, the BBC report in question actually shows the building in the background standing upright and totally not collapsed. So how did the BBC know it was going to happen?
Again, troofers don’t seem to know. It’s a mystery! But obviously the conspiracy must have told the BBC that this was all part of the plan, because, well, whatever. It’s not like they could have discovered the building collapsed without being involved in the conspiracy.
And like the flagellum and cillia, this is yet another supposed mystery conspiracy nuts are trying to exploit which isn’t really much of a mystery at all. Even in the Alex Jones article linked to above, a hint is given as to how things actually went down:
As we have documented before, firefighters, police and first responders were all told to get back from the building because it was about to be brought down.
If you change the last three words to “collapse,” you get a perfect explanation for the BBC’s blunder in this one sentence. There was already significant damage to Building 7. The word of its probable collapse was making the rounds. Chaos and confusion ruled the day. Add in an overzealous BBC news team playing the odds poorly and you get a seemingly prophetic news report.
I know, it’s so sinister, isn’t it?
Whether you’re talking about our genes or our politics, nobody likes the idea of being subject to random forces. We like to be a part of a narrative. It’s comforting to think that we’re part of a deity’s plan. It’s also kind of comforting to think that evil plans are afoot, and we’re part of a team of underdogs who will thwart them. As Michael Shermer likes to point out, we are “story-telling animals.” But the reality of our situation isn’t dependent on those desires and sometimes not knowing something just means that we don’t know.
A few years back I went to the Answers in Genesis Creationist “Museum” in Petersburg, Kentucky. We kind of rushed through the actual exhibits because we had other priorities, but I do recall looking over this one, which PZ Myers later elaborated upon:
So Babel refers to the famous Tower of Babel story from Genesis where God got butthurt by a giant phallic tower so he divided humanity by language and, apparently, race. Hilariously enough, Ham plans on building a replica of the tower next to his fake museum. And this graphic is supposed to explain the origin of real-life human races based on that mythology.
If you click to embiggen the image above, you’ll see that the “Descendants of Ham” end up in Africa. Ham is one of Noah’s sons who, in Genesis 9, saw his father drunk and naked and so he dealt with the resultant trauma by cursing his own son. I’m sure it all made perfect sense in those days.
The idea that Ham’s descendants were then cursed, where they then traveled to Africa has been used to justify all kinds of awful treatment of those of African descent, including slavery. It was especially common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and remains so among the Mormons. To be fair, Ken Ham and AiG claim to oppose racism. But they still can’t bring themselves to denounce the myths which supported it so strongly for so many centuries.
The racism you can sometimes find in the 9/11 “truth” movement focuses more on Teh J00z. I’d really rather not link to it, but if you do a Google search for “9/11 truth Jews,” one of the results you’ll get on the first page is a YouTube video series called “Lies from the Jews in the 9/11 Truth Movement.” Apparently that refers to the supposed disinformation agents among the Troofers — government agents paid to spread lies about what Troofers believe with the intention of discrediting them. That’s a brand of anti-Semitic paranoia that goes beyond even the beliefs about 9/11 being a “Zionist plot” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion variety.
In that same Google search you’ll find on the front page a blogspot website which in my opinion is just too detailed to be a Poe, despite the 4chan-ish title, “Jews did 9/11.” It repeats all kinds of hateful lies about how Jews working in the WTC buildings were warned not to come to work and were then seen driving around in a van with decals on it celebrating the attacks. One of the articles is a McCarthyite list called “Jews in High Places,” as if being Jewish were like being a convicted child molester or something.
I could easily go on, but you get the picture. And this isn’t to say that every single person who shares these weird beliefs about the origin of species and 9/11 also need to have weird beliefs about race. But when you open the floodgates of irrationality, there’s not much to stop one from accepting all of that garbage.
One of the easiest and most effective way of demonstrating the failures of both 9/11 conspiracy theories and evolution denialism is to point out that neither group seems willing to submit their “research” to peer review in a serious publication the way every real scientist does. Here is how U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton described this tendency among creationists in the decision for McLean v Arkansas Board of Education (emphasis mine):
The scientific community consists of individuals and groups, nationally and internationally, who work independently in such varied fields as biology, paleontology, geology, and astronomy. Their work is published and subject to review and testing by their peers. The journals for publication are both numerous and varied. There is, however, not one recognized scientific journal which has published an article espousing the creation science theory described in Section 4(a). Some of the State’s witnesses suggested that the scientific community was “close-minded” on the subject of creationism and that explained the lack of acceptance of the creation science arguments. Yet no witness produced a scientific article for which publication has been refused. Perhaps some members of the scientific community are resistant to new ideas. It is, however, inconceivable that such a loose knit group of independent thinkers in all the varied fields of science could, or would, so effectively censor new scientific thought.
Notice the Judge doesn’t say that the submitted papers to relevant journals have been rejected for good reasons, or that creationists have simply failed to respond to the reasons for which their studies were rejected. Creationists just hadn’t been turning in any studies at all, presumably because they just assume that the peer reviewers really are as close-minded as they themselves are. And not only have they not been turning in their homework, they expect to get an A+ for the assignment. And if they don’t get it, well, they’ll go to court to try to make sure they do.
As you might guess based on the above quote, the creationists lost the McLean case. And they keep on losing, just like truthers keep losing in the court of public opinion. Since both groups are scared to death of scrutiny and claim to believe that the scientific community is conspiring against them, they make their own fake peer reviewed journals.
The reason I’m calling these “peer reviewed journals” fake is because both of them are devoted to covering research which comes to a certain conclusion, instead of covering research within a certain field. The creationist one even says as much in the subtitle: “Building the creation model.” It’s not “Discovering the creation model” or “Studying the creation model.” They have to build the creation model on the pages of their little newsletters because the only thing you find in nature is the evolution model.
When ignorance, petitions, and racism fail to convince people of your weird beliefs, you can always just lie to try to make your point. My favorite creationist lie is an extreme example of quote-mining. Here is a selection from On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin creationists love to cite:
“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.”
Wow, so Darwin thought the eye couldn’t have evolved… Sounds pretty amazing, right? And it’s right there in his most famous book. If that’s all you know of what Darwin thought about the evolution of the eye, it should be pretty telling. Those evolutionists must be pretty stupid to read that in their science book and still believe in evolution.
You might think something like that unless you read what immediately follows:
Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.
As you can see, the earlier Darwin quote was taken out of its context. Darwin was originally commenting on the superficial appearance of absurdity in his claim that all complex organs evolved from simpler ones. I have this pet peeve – and religious people seem most guilty of this – claiming that a quote they don’t happen to like was taken “out of context.” Whenever you hear that claim being made, you should ask the person making it what context they are talking about. Because 99 times out of 100, you’ll find that they don’t even know what it means to take a quote out of context. It’s just a kneejerk reaction. Go ahead – tell your religious friend about your favorite cruel and inhumane passage from the Bible or the Koran and ask them what they think about it, and chances are they’ll claim it’s taken out of context. And yet many will have no problem with actually taking Darwin out of context.
My favorite 9/11 Troofer lie is that 7 of the 9/11 hijackers are still alive. The BBC actually reported this on September 23, 2001. It really would be a serious blow to the “official story” if it were actually true. I remember hearing about it and having suspicions of my own.
But if you read to the end of the article, you’ll find a link to an editorial retraction of this story. The BBC cites “confusion” as the reason for their initial error and they denounce the conspiracy theories surrounding their report.
“The confusion over names and identities we reported back in 2001 may have arisen because these were common Arabic and Islamic names.”
Back when I was silly enough to argue with these people on internet forums, this issue was brought up. The person I was discussing it with said that the BBC’s later response was a “mainstream media opinion blog,” while her citation – the same one which linked to the correction – was objective reportage. So according to this Troofer, the BBC was totally credible when they were reporting something she happened to like, but suddenly became a part of the world gubbamint’s conspiracy machine of false flag terrorist oppression when they changed their position due to gathering more evidence. And when they say the hijackers were alive, that’s a fact; but when they say they’re dead, that’s just their opinion.
And that wasn’t an isolated incident. When I was searching for those citations, the first result on the Google Machine was for the popular Troofer website WhatReallyHappened.com, which repeats the exact same lie about 7 of the hijackers being alive without any information on the relevant updates from the BBC.
Everyone makes mistakes. Just twice in this very article we’ve got two big mistakes from a news organization as esteemed as the BBC. It happens. But when it does, the right thing to do, the adult thing to do, is to admit it and change your mind accordingly. That’s why people mock creationists and Troofers. They’d rather break than bend. They care more about coming to a conclusion which matches their ideology than one which matches the evidence. So if you’re a member of one of these groups and resent being lumped in with the other, you should remember that you did it to yourself.