World class projection at the Discovery Institute

Projection being a behavior frequently engaged in by creationists wherein they project their own “…unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people“, namely scientists and defenders of science education.

In this example David Klinghoffer of the Discovery(less) Institute lays the projection on thick in his criticism of a recent article written by Jonah Lehrer in the The New Yorker, which was about the recent Gallup poll showing that nearly half of people in U.S. are still mired in denial regarding evolution.

The problem with this analysis [Lehrer’s attempt to explain rampant evolution denial in the U.S. – T.B.] is that we are familiar, from long experience, with a no less impressively obdurate ignorance on the part of Darwin’s believers. No doubt there are plenty of people who reject Darwinism on the basis of a gut response alone, who never have taken the time to probe the evolution controversy and who fail to realize that it has two sides, both of which have a case to make.

But many — no, I take that back, almost all — the public Darwin defenders I can think of give evidence of having meticulously insulated themselves from knowing what the other side says.

Never mind Klinghoffer’s minimization of the level of scientific ignorance amongst creationists (which I can tell you from experience is prodigious), at least he’s admitting it exists. But to try and turn this around and argue that it is we defenders of science (as opposed to the “Darwin defenders” which is just Discoveroid frame-speak, i.e. propaganda) who are not only ignorant of creationist claims but “meticulously” insulate ourselves from them? That is hilarious!

Yes Mr. Klinghoffer, I, a twenty year veteran of defending science and science education from the attacks of creationists like yourself, have “meticulously insulated” myself from your ideas by amassing a collection of creationist literature containing nearly four hundred references (so far), dating from the 19th to the 21st century (never mind the video tapes, DVD’s and audio recordings); by  attending nearly every creationist event I hear about that’s within reasonable driving distance of where I live; and by regularly perusing creationist websites and blogs, like the one you’re posting on.

All that I do just so I can maintain my blissful state of insulation from what your side says.    

On the contrary, it might be justifiably said that I am somewhat obsessed with what creationists (of all stripes) are saying. However despite my obsession I have somehow failed to notice the meticulous ignorance of the subject that Mr. Klinghoffer’s claims to see in my colleagues (whose magazine, journal and blog articles I also obsessively imbibe).

[Who else out there bought the Creation/Evolution Journal collection from the NCSE and read all 39 issues at once like it was one big book? Let’s see hands? Anyone? Anyone? Oh, I suppose was that just me? Like I’m the only one who would do that…]

Forget for a moment about who, Darwinists or Design advocates, is actually right. If you took a sample of ID folks and a sample of Darwin people, specifically those who have felt confident enough in their views to write about them for publication, and then quizzed each group about what arguments their opponents offer, there’s no question that those from the ID community would know better what their opposites in the debate say.

I question that. [See how easy that was?] Having observed them for many years I can say that it is vanishingly rare to encounter a creationist who can accurately relay the basics of evolutionary theory and its supporting evidence. They may get this or that part correct, but unvaryingly they go off the rails at some point, mischaracterizing either the theory of the facts (usually both).

Intelligent design “theory” is little more than a litany of antievolution arguments (misinformation, half-truths, logical fallacies, and out of context quotations of actual scientists) that have been floating around the creationist movement for decades (see links below), combined with “positive ID arguments” that are nothing but deliberately veiled versions of “God did it”.

See: “Expelled’s intelligent design theory – this IS your daddy’s creationism”, Part I & Part II

Just look at ENV as a convenient illustration. We strive to keep up with toughest challenges, such as they are, from evolutionists. Now look at the competing Darwin blogs. Guys like PZ Myers & Co. concentrate their fire on naïve young-earth creationists.

Actually I haven’t noticed this either. However if there is any small truth to this it might be because, unlike ID creationists, young Earthers (YEC) occasionally attempt to make testable claims for their views (i.e. arguments for a young Earth or Noah’s Flood). Whereas ID has been deliberately stripped of such things in an attempt to avoid conflicts with the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, leaving only the aforementioned attacks on evolution and untestable “God did it” assertions.

Are there old Earth, progressive creationists among the ID ranks? Sure, but they’re still creationists and a significant proportion of their target audience (the people in the pews) are good ol’ YEC (see the results of the Gallup poll Lehrer was lamenting).

Jerry Coyne and his colleagues in the Darwin-defending business are careful to stay unaware of the very serious challenges to Darwinism from ID.

Klinghoffer is sort of right about this one. We defenders of science are completely unaware of any “very serious” scientific “challenges to Darwinism evolutionary theory”; there are however theologically motivated, scientifically non-credible, political challenges that are a very serious danger to the future of science education in the United States. Of those we are all too aware.

Of that large portion of the media that remains committed to Darwin and never misses a chance to lash out at doubters, most are so utterly ignorant of the terms of the debate that that they cannot even distinguish intelligent design from creationism and use the terms interchangeably. You can point out their error again and again, but they never seem to understand.

Right. I’ve got two word for ya Mr. Klinghoffer: “Cdesign Proponentsists“. A refusal to countenance deceit is not a failure to understand it.

It’s common sense that human beings are hobbled by prejudices of all kinds. You didn’t need a study in a scientific journal to tell you that. The beginning of wisdom, surely, is to recognize your own ill-founded preconceptions and areas of stubborn ignorance. To that project of self-enlightenment, the community of Darwin defenders is uncompromisingly resistant.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?


Klinghoffer, David (2012) “The Stubbornness of Their Ignorance“, Evolution News and Views (blog), downloaded on 6-10-2012


7 thoughts on “World class projection at the Discovery Institute

  1. a little story about creationist ignorance: I (and some others) were just in an online debate with John Heininger (President of the Australian Evangelical Apologetics), and he was presented with the evidence of vestigial hindlimbs in whales, including occasional whales being born with fairly well-developed legs. He exclaimed “There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that whales evolved legs and came to walk on land.” Well, I guess he’s right there.


    • How about this one on whales from Jonathan Sarfati (primarily the last sentence):

      However, there are many changes required for a whale to evolve from a land mammal. One of them is to get rid of its pelvis. This would tend to crush the reproductive orifice with propulsive tail movements. But a shrinking pelvis would not be able to support the hindlimbs needed for walking. So the hypothetical transitional form would be unsuited to both land and sea, and hence be extremely vulnerable. Also, the hind part of the body must twist on the fore part, so the tail’s sideways movement can be converted to a vertical movement. – Sarfati, J. (1999) Refuting Evolution, p.71

      The only sense I can make of that last sentence is that he thinks that in order to get from a side to side swimming motion, like what fish do, to an up and down one, whales had to twist their spines 90 degrees; which is just, well, insane.


  2. The thing is that creationists generally hide their ideas and “theories.” If you go over to the ICR or AiG I’d wager >90% of their output is going “evolution is wrong.” Very rarely do they actually make claims of their own (beyond evolution is wrong, therefore God) and so I suspect there is a fare bit of creationism I’ve yet to learn about simply because they don’t talk about it (and when they do it’s paywalled in their ‘journals’)

    That said, I suspect a creationist’s understanding of evolution is significantly worse.


    • Absolutely. Creationism, in all its forms, is primarily just criticism of evolution. That’s why the ID creationist claim to only want to have the “evidence against”, or “problems with” evolution (which are all the same old creationist chestnuts) taught is for all practical purposes synonymous with wanting to teach creationism. They know that if they can get their “evidence” against evolution into the heads of public school kids, that the kids will, by default, then look to creationism (which saturates the general public already) as the only other “explanation”.

      The difference between ID and YEC is that, while it is rare, YEC will occasionally make a positive testable claim about the natural world. Though of course when it is pointed out to them that their claim fails when tested against the empirical evidence (which it always does) they almost never accept that falsification. IDC’s stick to vague untestable prattle about a “designer”.


  3. Projection, rationalizations, and a preference to use/learn by “Fox News” type analogies seems to be a common theme among creationists…Ive come to see it as the the last line of defense of simple minded fools. Now, the perpetrators of these kinds of thought crimes, who do so only to mislead their followers, them I see as con men, they know they have to work hard at keeping the rubes from developing any thoughts of their own.

    Thinking after all, leads to all kinds of things…like understanding “something aint quite right with what they are telling me” and perhaps that would lead to less money in the collection plate.

    Its the same strategy of keeping their wimmen barefoot and pregnant. Keep em stupid….and “Nevermind the man behind the curtain!”

    As usual, well done Troy.


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