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Touring Britain bit by bit with a pair of boots, a few bicycles, a lot of trains and a bag of lenses. I take pictures and then I write about them.

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Blog review: Question Darwin

I recently posted on the phenomenon of British creationism, and my belief that it is not nearly as widespread and organised as the creationists would like us to believe. So it was fun this evening to come across a genuine British creationist blogger, while researching, of all things, the pub quiz I'm co-organising. The blog and associated website "Question Darwin" are written by eccentric Hampshire GP Stephen Hayes, aka "Dissenter": born again while at university, and introduced to creationism by, you guessed it, an engineer.

I strongly recommend the website for starters. It tries to imitate the classics, but I feel that the text formatting was just a little too uniform and consistent. Certainly there were bizarre outbursts of bold, underline, large font, and all caps, but I would have preferred to see more colours, comic sans, and centre-align. Similarly, the background colour is a good choice, but the lack of distracting repeating background motif is a school-boy error, and I could see no evidence of animated GIFs. Fortunately the blog makes up this disappointment, as, even under the constraints imposed by Blogspot, Hayes manages to make a classic pig's ear of bold, italics, and any other formatting he can find a button for.

Hayes is publishing his site, of course, because the evidence which falsifies Darwin is being suppressed. A powerful elite are controlling the dissemination of the lies of evolutionism: chiefly the humanists and liberal media. Classic conspiracy theory stuff.

"But wait, it can't be a conspiracy theory!"

Why not?

"Because, er, the media don't give any time to Creationists, so, you know..."

Uhm, wait, what?

"Well think about it! If it were only a conspiracy theory, you'd hear about it in the media, like you do MMR and 9/11truthers. But Darwin dissent has been suppressed in the media. So there must be a real conspiracy!"

Uhuh. Chief amongst the godless liberal humanist reptilians media institutions are the notoriously biased University Challenge and Thought For The Day. Damn you TFTD and your dissent suppression.

In The Guardian this week, Stephen Moss suggested that the creationist movement in the UK is different to that in the US. But the difference is merely one of scale: the British creationists would like an animatronic theme park, but are not nearly capable of building one. In almost all other respects, the movements are the same: in their motivation, their style, and their arguments. But the difference in scale does mean one other difference: US creationists argue in order to influence politicians and schoolboards; British creationists have a hard enough time just trying to persuade their constituency of other Christians.

So Hayes is defending God from the liberal humanists who are destroying society, and is taking the usual route of poking holes in evolution -- or at least trying give the perception of having done so -- and concluding that a magic man done it. To achieve this task, he is lightly repackaging American creationism for the British Christian. The website is striking in its lack of creativity. There's "Darwinism" here and "evolutionist" bogeymen there. Sometimes there's even "Darwinistic evolutionism." "Molecules to man" gets a prominent spot on the front page, and, of course, most of the site seems to be about perceived flaws in Darwin's character. Often, though, Hayes cuts out the hard writing work altogether, and just copypastes other people's work verbatim. Never mind how bat-shit insane the piece is.

It would be superfluous to count and list mistakes, or to systematically link them to the index of creationist claims. That the site is yet another rehash of tired old errors goes without saying. But there were a couple of amusing ones that I had never come across before. I think my favourite occurred in a long and confused rant about Darwin stealing the idea of natural selection from Edward Blythe (an argument apparently based entirely upon a quote from Blythe in which, er, he doesn't introduce natural selection). It is asserted that "... years later, Wallace refused to go to Darwin's funural [sic]." That Wallace was one of Darwin's pallbearers[1] shows just how fundamental the lack of either intellectual honesty or the most basic of fact-checking is.

In summary, Question Darwin presents little novelty in terms of creationist claims or style of argument. But the blog is certainly fun for its up-to-date combination of rambling ineptness with surreal anti-BBC rants. The overall incompetence is medium, malice is moderate, and humour high. All things considered, I give it two Timecubes out of five.

Kook rating: [Timecube] [Timecube] [Timecube] [Timecube] [Timecube]

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[Edit] Edit | [Delete] Delete | [History] History | [Version] Last edited by Joe D, 2009-02-22 01:51:15 | [Views] Viewed 38522 times






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Jon d

Why would we guess engineer? If Hays is a GP he must have sat through a few biology lessons in his time and aught to know better.

Posted at 2009-02-25 03:19:31 - [Ban] - [Del]

Joe D

{{{flag}}} Earth

oh, engineers just seem to pop up in creationist circles an awful lot -- the previous post that i reference here also concerns one. i think it's because they design very complicated and fine-tuned devices, and, believing the job to be a very hard one, refuse to believe that the same can be achieved without any such designer. doctors also seem to be relatively prominent in creationism.

i think it must be analogous to scientologists recruiting celebs: creationists love to promote their doctors and engineers in the absence of any actual scientists, because those professions sound quite sciency, even though neither actually requires any understanding of how science works.

Posted at 2009-02-25 23:04:00 - [Del]

Jon d

I suspect all scientists are not equal in this respect. A few years ago I heard Oliva Judson being interviewed on the radio to promote the Dr Tatiana tv series, she was saying amongst otherthings that it's been shown that American scientists in biology and related fields are notably less religious than average for scientists and cosmologists are the most religious. Sounded interesting but I couldn't google up anything that sounded like a paper backing that statement up, There was some survey in the mid naughties (Ecklund) but all I could find with google was the rehashed press release which was preoccupied with the finding that social scientists are more religious than natural scientists, oh and btw biologists were least religious of all. It'd be interesting to see what the entire hierarchy of scientific disciplines looked like, but I can't find one on the internet, least not for free.

Posted at 2009-02-26 13:54:14 - [Ban] - [Del]

Joe D

{{{flag}}} Earth

not sure if it's right that cosmologists are most likely to be religious, but the comment reminded me of this classic essay from sean m carroll (the physicist, not to be confused with sean b carroll, the biologist):

Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists

Posted at 2009-02-26 22:54:26 - [Del]

My other blog is a...
  • Science blog! A blog about cancer cell and molecular biology, coming soon...
  • Skepticism blog! I contribute to the group blog Lay Science on the nature of science, skepticism, and bad arguments.
  • Science publishing blog! It's called Journalology and it's a group blog about publishers, journals, papers and data.
  • Fiction blog! Where I make stuff up, coming soon...
  • Cycling and transport policy blog! I run the group blog At War With The Motorist, where we look at evidence-based urban planning and transport policy, and ride bikes.

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