Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Transcortical Revelation Aphasia

As some of you already know, Red State Rabble is a big fan of Joe McFaul, the attorney who publishes the Law, Evolution, and Junk Science blog. Joe posts sparingly, but when he does, it's always worth reading.

Although many of you probably aren't aware of it, RSR is also wild about Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and author of Awakenings, Uncle Tungsten, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Sacks often writes case histories of patients who suffer from neurological disorders that leave them with aphasias -- the inability to speak or comprehend language -- who are able, nevertheless, to compensate for their neurological deficits in unusual and sometimes wonderful ways.

We were reading Joe McFaul's latest exposure of quote mining by John West of the Discovery Institute when we thought of Sacks work on aphasisa.

West's quote mining of scientists is most often seen as a moral failing. As dishonesty. Empty cynicism.

Explaining West's tortured cut and paste with other people's words as simple dishonesty, however, doesn't provide a wholly satisfying explanation because he and his intelligent design compatriots are so often caught in the act. If it were mere cynicism or garden variety dishonesty -- that is if they were concious of it or could control the behavior in some way -- wouldn't they do more to cover their tracks after being caught in the act so many times?

Then it came to us. We channeled Sacks. Perhaps West's way with words is really symptomatic of an underlying neurological disorder, a new as yet undiscovered aphasia that effects not those who suffer trauma or stroke, but who take their Bible way too literally.

Let's call it Transcortical Revelation Aphasia. It makes a jumble of the words of scientists in the minds of its sufferers.

Unfortunately, we're unlikely to get a case history from Dr. Sacks. His writing looks at the wonderful ways patients compensate for their deficits. And, Let's face it, there's nothing that wonderful about ID.


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