Thursday, August 09, 2007


On Topic

Intelligent design guru William Dembski, it seems, don't get no respect. He often writes on his blog, Uncommon Descent, about the lack of collegiality from those scientists, journalists, and educators he and his movement brand as Neo-Darwinists.

If he would like to be treated with respect, however, perhaps he should resolve to treat others with respect as well. Isn't that the Golden Rule that Christians of Dembski's fundamentalist stripe claim they hold so dear?

Over at Dembski's blog right now is a post titled "Kevin Padian is Archie Bunker!" (Garrison Keillor says that Minnesotans have never found a food that doesn't taste better covered with cheese. We would say that creationists have never written a sentence they think couldn't be improved by adding an exclamation point, or two.)

The post features a flash animation that morphs Padian, the UC-Berkeley biologist whose expert testimony at the Dover intelligent design trial blew ID criticism of so-called fossil gaps out of the water, into Archie Bunker.

Read the post for yourself and ask how the headline and the photo are at all relevant to anything written in the post. Ask yourself how they're tied to any event that might be called news.

See if you don't agree that the headline and photo are nothing more than a school yard taunt. And like badly done pornography, totally gratuitous. Like the voice-over fart noises Dembski did for an animation on the Dover ruling and his likening of Jerry Coyne to Herman Munster this latest attempt at adolescent humor focuses not on any issue in dispute but on the physical attributes of his political opponents.

This sort of "You're ugly, so there!!!" was a feature of fifth grade, as I remember it, and it undoubtedly goes down well with the Uncommon Descent target audience, but to adults it's much more revealing of Dembski's character, or lack of it, than anything else.

This baseless attack leaves one with the impression that Dembski lies awake nights thinking about the man whose testimony did so much to expose ID's empty rhetoric. Dembski, we suspect, replays the trial in his head every night. In his mind, Dembski isn't AWOL as he was at Dover. He isn't hiding behind Discovery's lawyers. He's out there, sword in hand, slaying the dragons of Neo-Darwinism and going mano a mano with Padian.

Is there any evidence to support this view? Well, this isn't Dembski's first utterly baseless attack on the Padian.

In May 2006 Dembski charged that Padian made racist statements in a speech at Berkeley. His facts hopelessly wrong, as always, Dembski was forced to publicly retract his false charge.

In retracting, Dembski wrote: "In any case, I should not have engaged in ad hominems against Kevin Padian and apologize to him for doing so. Perhaps this incident will help persuade both sides in this debate to stay on topic and focus on the issues."

That lesson is, apparently, already forgotten.


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