Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear Ann: shut up.

So now Ann Coulter has taken time out from her busy schedule of claiming that everyone who doesn't agree with her has the IQ of library paste, and is weighing in on the idea of biological evolution.

For those of you who would prefer not to kill off massive quantities of brain cells by reading her absurd rant (here), allow me to present the main points in her column, none of which I am making up:

1)  The most detailed defense of evolution in a quarter-century in popular media occurred when a nine-year-old boy stood up at a Rick Perry rally and said "I believe in evolution."

2)  There are no transitional fossils.

3)  Evolutionists believe that bears turned into whales and squirrels turned into bats.

4)  There are no transitional fossils.

5)  During the Cambrian Explosion, the eye materialized, fully formed, presumably in some previously blind animal, who must have been surprised as hell when it happened.

6)  There are no transitional fossils.

7)  Dr. David Raup, geologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, believes that evolution is incorrect because the evolutionary tree of horses had to be significantly revised.

8)  Oh, and also: there are no transitional fossils.

Okay, let me address these one at a time.

There have been plenty of cogent arguments for evolution presented in the media in the last 25 years.  Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Lewis Thomas, Eugenie Scott, P. Z. Myers, Barbara Forrest, Kenneth Miller -- the list goes on and on.  If Coulter could only find "a nine-year-old boy" as evolution's best exponent, she must not have been looking very hard.

No one, including evolutionists, thinks that bears turned into whales, nor squirrels into bats.  First, all four of those are modern animal groups; this would be like saying you are the great-grandparent of someone your own age.  Second, bears (Order Carnivora) and whales (Order Cetacea) are quite distantly related, as are squirrels (Order Rodentia) and bats (Order Chiroptera).  She basically picked pairs of relatively unrelated mammals, made the (false) statement that evolutionists claimed one was "turning into" the other, and used that to discredit the entire model.  I wonder if she's ever heard of the "Straw Man" fallacy?

The evolution of the eye, far from being a sudden appearance, shows a nice progression between a simple, light-sensing eyespot, to a cup-shaped parabolic light catcher, to a partly-enclosed sphere like a pinhole camera, to a fully-closed eye like our own.  The anti-evolutionists really need to find a new example of something the evolutionists haven't explained, because this one's getting old.

David Raup is a thoroughgoing evolutionist, and has written a number of papers on the subject of vertebrate paleontology and the role of extinctions in evolution.  His comment about the revision of the horse clade was taken out of context, another thing that Coulter seems to excel at.

Oh, and also: there are transitional fossils.  Tens of thousands of them.

The ignorance demonstrated in this article is only exceeded by the general nastiness Coulter exhibits.  I always come away from reading her columns feeling like I need to take a shower.  To wit, the last paragraph:
Intelligent design scientists look at the evidence and develop their theories; Darwinists start with a theory and then rearrange the evidence. These aren't scientists. They are religious fanatics for whom evolution must be true so that they can explain to themselves why they are here, without God.
I find it astonishing that there is any news outlet that is willing to print her obnoxious, fact-free screeds, much less why anyone would want to read them.  Of course, if she was turned down for publication, it wouldn't be because she'd written vitriolic garbage; it would be because the liberal media was trying to squelch her views.

So, a brief, personal note: Ann, do shut up.  You're out of your element, and frankly, you're embarrassing yourself.  Go back to subjects you're more comfortable with, such as how all liberals hate America, and leave the factual stuff to people who actually understand it.


  1. Part of me wonders if Ann would be listened to if she looked like she had two brain cells to rub together. No one "listens" to her. They watch her. She lives on that celebrity lifestyle non-sense. If the validity and veracity of her writing were judged by the avg high school govt or writing class, she would be asked to stay afterschool for some remedial help. Makes me sad to hear folks clinging to her words as though they have meaning.

  2. One has to wonder with some incredulity how a person with such a loose grip on reality is able to function on a day-to-day basis, instead of collapsing in a heap crying "it's not real, none of it is real!". Does she, and those like her, argue from intransigence, a refusal to accept evidence, or from genuine ignorance. It's hard to tell.

    The one saving grace of Ann? She had the decency to be born anywhere other than the UK, so for now I'm separated from her by an ocean - though still not by enough.