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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

ID and popular culture: Internet Darwinist attacks Dilbert's creator

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, the legendary engineer with a fashion sense*, made the mistake of offering some thoughtful comments on the intelligent design controversy. Of course, P.Z. Myers, a classic Internet Darwinist attacked Adams in the usual graceless way that does so much to encourage people to consider ID, starting with
Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, has written a truly clueless whine about "Darwinism". It's a mess.

Then Scott hits back, pointing out that Darwinist Myers bumbled into precisely the trap he had set - he misrepresented Scott's views:

This blogger, who calls himself PZ, is evidently a highly educated scientist, extremely informed on the topic of evolution, and quite passionate. But for reasons that fascinate the trained hypnotist in me, that brilliance doesn't extend to comprehending The Dilbert Blog. (The curious reader might want to Google cognitive dissonance to understand how something like that can happen.) That makes him the poster child for my point that the average person (me) has no credible source of information on the topic of evolution.

[ ... ]

The people who purport to have evidence of evolution do a spectacular job of making themselves non-credible. And since I don't have any relevant scientific knowledge myself, nor direct access to the data, everything I know has to come from non-credible types. To me, it's like hiring a serial cannibal as a babysitter based on the fact that he PROMISES not to eat your kids despite having eaten all the other kids on the block. It might be a fact that he's telling the truth. The problem is that he's not credible. (The other problem is that he eats your kids.)

* The fashion sense, that is, of an engineer.

(Note: If you came here looking for the story about the Pope using the term "intelligent design" to describe the Catholic view of origins, go here. Other frequently sought stories (academic freedom, museums fanatically promoting Darwinism, lawsuit over use of public funds to promote liberal religious views on evolution) appear at the bottom of today's posts. )


(Note: >P.Z. Myers crossed my own screen a while back. Speaking of how to defend Darwinism, he announces:

Please don't try to tell me that you object to the tone of our complaints. Our only problem is that we aren't martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.

Charming fellow, don't you think ...

Rumour control: The ID-supporting Discovery Institute is NOT paying Myers to act this way. Apparently, the service is free.)

I do hope Adams plans to cartoon on this subject. Let's see, who should be the Darwinist? Not Dilbert or Wally ... the pointy-haired boss could receive a directive to promote Darwinism, I suppose, and goodness knows, he would ... oh, I know - what about that rat? Or Dogbert? Or Catbert? Well, we must wait and see ...

(Additional Note: Dilbert has been, for many years, my favourite strip. Curiously, the workplace mentality at Dilbert's software company - far from originating in the Nineties computer industry, as many suppose - very much prevailed at a publishing company where I was a freelance book editor in the Eighties, well before most of us Canadian editors had ever seen a computer. For example, I recall that one Dilbert episode has employees trying to expand the size of their cubicles by piling stuff outside them. We actually did that ... until management sent round a memo telling us to stop. I tell you, if a spark had lit that place, ... hey presto! Dante's Inferno! ... )
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

ID and popular culture ID tee shirt store opens

Yes, tee shirts, with mugs, steins and notepads to follow, I understand, as well as barbecue aprons. It's competition for Darwinist "evolveware" such as the fish with feet* Access Research Network, which sponsors the products, is probably aiming at the holiday shopping sprees.

Incidentally, when I first saw the evolvefish on a car with US state plates, I thought it was a satire on Darwinian evolution put out by an evangelical Christian group. The lines of the evolvefish are elegant but the message is confusing unless you are already "in the know" about what it is supposed to mean. After all, what is the point of a fish with feet? If you have feet and you still want to be a fish, you need therapy, m'kay? But many olden-days American Volvo owners seemed to like the evolvefish - I guess it softened the exaggeratedly square lines of the older model Volvos. Ah, memories ...

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.
Blog policy note: Blogger software now permits me to moderate comments before they appear, so I am re-enabling comments on a trial basis. Regular readers may recall that for a while I disabled comments due to persistent problems with defamation and obscenity. One person, who is probably not in the running for Brilliant Rocket Scientist of the Year, made a defamatory remark about an American attorney who has demonstrated his willingness to sue in cases of defamation! After that scary episode, a legal advisor strictly warned me to either permit no comments or else make no effort to moderate them - and advertise the fact that I don't. For a while, I simply chose the first way because the second sounds completely unacceptable. Now that Blogger software has very recently enabled me to screen Comments prior to publication, let's hope we can have a lively Letters to the Editor column. As usual, no one need go to the trouble of bothering me with profanity, blasphemy, defamation, naked URLs, solicitations or appeals, threats, insults, or any material that a Canadian grandmother who has been in the news business for thirty-five years would be unlikely to publish. The Internet is the last free country in the world, and someone, somewhere, will surely publish such rubbish, so even if you think I am a prude, your rights are not violated thereby.

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