Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Great Egnor Hoax

So the Discovery Institute folks have finally admitted what many of us suspected all along: the inane defenses of ID offered up by Michael Egnor were the DI's idea of a joke:

"Over the past month I have engaged in what my friend Bill Dembski ludicly refers to as 'street theatre'. My posts here have been an outlandish parody of the bona fide Intelligent Design position, liberally injected with many of the more simplistic errors of the Young Earth Creationists. My purpose was to see how far we could go before the gullible Darwinists realized they were being taken for a ride. "

I give them credit, it is quite a step up from Dembski's Farting Judge cartoon. But who, I wonder, do they think the joke is on here? Satire of this sort can be a very damning indictment if done well. Who can forget Alan Sokal's hoax titled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" published in a 1996 issue of a postmodern cultural studies journal called Social Text. By writing a nonsensical piece that was taken seriously, he called into question the intellectual rigour in that field.

However, when the satirical writing is not of one's opponents' position, but of one's own, how does that imply anything about one's opponents? IDer/creationists have long been criticized for making ignorant and downright stupid arguments. So if yet another round of stupidity appears, can anyone blame the scientifically literate for concluding it is just more of the same? How were Egnor's posts ignoring the evolution of bacteria any more absurd than Michael Behe ignoring the pile of articles on the evolution of the immune system at Dover? Egnor's claims that "evolution = random mutation + natural selection" is just as flawed as that argument is in every other IDer/creationist screed. Where do his serious arguments end and satire begin? If we can't tell, and indeed judging from the defenses they got from the usual suspects, neither can they, then the joke is on them, not us.

If Michael Egnor's satires proved anything, it is that the IDer/creationist arguments are indistinguishable from nonsense, which has been the view of the scientists all along. Thanks Doc.

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