Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Discovery Institute Flack Responds

Oh, look! The Discovery Institute flack Jonathan McLatchie has responded with a barely literate screed.

In addition to his charming mangling of English grammar and the spelling of my name, he asks, "Does Shallit really think that we haven't heard of processes such as genetic drift and endosymbiosis?"

Well, I bet McLatchie has, since he seems to have studied some biology. But I wasn't talking about McLatchie, as is clear from my text. Johnson, when the video was shot back in 1993, apparently didn't know a damn thing about drift - and that was the issue I was addressing. McLatchie tries to switch attention from Johnson in 1993 to all ID advocates today. Nice try at misdirection, Jonathan!

McLatchie goes on to claim, "I'm sure Phillip Johnson is aptly aware of the various kinds of selective process: balancing selection, stabilizing selection, disruptive selection, directional selection to name just a few."

Then why did Johnson lie and claim selection could not produce change? And why did he claim natural selection acted to preserve neutral mutations? No, it's clear Johnson was just being pig-ignorant. And McLatchie thinks it's just peachy. Why any Christians would want to be associated with such dishonesty is beyond me. But as we all know, it's just fine to lie for Jeebus.


Grumpy Bob said...

McLatchie is based in Scotland and has a degree in forensic science and is currently studying for a Masters in Evolutionary Biology and Systematics. He's been having a pop at me recently for disagreeing with Meyer's guff.
He seems to be the sole blogger at crossexamined.org - you can see the range of his blogging activity there. It's quite an insight into his worldview.
His biological expertise and understanding seems limited.

Jonathan McLatchie said...

You allege that I have spelt your name wrongly -- but I couldn't see where. Your name -- Jeffrey Shallit -- given on your blog is exactly the same as I have in my article.

You also claim that I mangled English grammar. I found one typo where my article said "came" where it should have said "come" (now fixed). But I'm not sure what else you refer to.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


It takes a special brand of incompetence to misspell my name and still not find it when I point it out. Congrats.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

He may then be familiar with the Edinburgh crackpots, a bunch of people who appeal to pseudo-science in order to find "evidence supporting the biblical account of creation." Yes, their understanding is very limited indeed.

By the way, it took me 2 seconds to find Shalllit on his posting.

Jonathan McLatchie said...

I stand corrected -- there is a single instance in my article where I spell your latter name with an extra 'l'. That was clearly a typo, however because I spell it correctly in every other case.

Jonathan McLatchie said...

But then it's not as bad as the BCSE (of which Robert Saunders is a member) who *still* haven't learned to spell my name, despite them having been writing about me since last November. PZ Myers still can't spell my name either.

Robert Saunders himself recently did the same on his blog.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

It would probably make life easier for everyone if you avoided coy abbreviations like "Jonathan M".

But all this is a side issue. The main issue is that Johnson's tape reveals him to be spectacularly ignorant of biology - or dishonest. And that you would back him up demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of creationism.

manuel moe g said...

Why is it OK to hold yourself to a low intellectual standard and a low standard for veracity when you do it for God? How exactly does that honor God? Depressing to think that "intellectual theism" allows itself to be smeared with dung, if it is not in fact a dung heap through and through.

Josiah said...

So drawing your attack from an 18-year-old video onto the current state of the Intelligent Design hypothesis is somehow underhand misdirecton?

The Johnson of 18 years ago can hardly be summoned to explain himself. In fact, I'd suggest such a tactic of attacking a past argument while ignoring the current position is something of a straw man, regardless of whether the statement fit the original argument.

Whether Johnson knew the various types of selection at that time I can't know, but right now the assertion you have to contend with is that no non-intelligent trend would produce life as we know it.

Jeffrey Shallit said...


Today's intelligent design differs very little from the intelligent design of 18 years ago. Otherwise why would the DI be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Johnson's book with such fanfare?

The question is, why do they want to celebrate the work of such an ignorant man?

Josiah said...

If it isn't any different, you can't complain that they're drawing attention to and then defending themselves instead of defending Johnson.
If it is different, you should be attacking the most up to date and thought out version, not an obsolete one that's been thoroughly refined since.
You simply cannot have it both ways.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Sure I can.

Intelligent design is as intellectually bankrupt today as it was then.

But my commentary was not about the entire range of commentary by all ID advocates - just one videotape.

If you want more commentary about the state of ID today, you can read my critiques of Meyer and Dembski, easily available online.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that we are constantly told that ID has nothing to do with religion, yet McLatchie's blog has a crucifix in its name, and between slobbering hyperbolic accolade filled hero worship and self-aggrandizing, we see religious screeds.

Just a coincidence, I suppose. Or is it just another creationist getting a degree for the sole purpose of making his anti-science gibberish seem impressive to the pew warmers?


Anonymous said...


...now the assertion you have to contend with is that no non-intelligent trend would produce life as we know it

No. You don't contend with assertions that are pulled out of...
There's a good reason why even non-out-of-thin-air assertions such "The dog ate my homework," aren't taken seriously.


Anonymous said...

"anonymous", you shouldn't really suggest that people are pulling statements out of the air when you haven't bothered to read the article being critiqued, in which you find

"The key point is that the mechanisms undergirding the evolution of life, according to Darwinism, are non-intelligent."

Granted I didn't quote it verbatim, and if you had searched for my statement it wouldn't come up in that article. If you'd read it however, you'd avoid making up objections out of, well, thin air.

Since names are apparently at a premium, I'll assume that both anonymouses are the same and address the other issue you raise.

The ID blog that is being attacked here is http://www.evolutionnews.org. That is indeed an ID blog, and deals exclusively with the science. Jonathan also blogs for CrossExamined.org, which IS NOT an Intelligent Design blog. It's an apologetics site. "Led by Frank Turek and other Christian apologists, CrossExamined.org exists to address the problem that 3-out-of-4 Christian youth leave the church while in college, many because they are intellectually skeptical."

So, the Christian appologetics site has a cruciform ensign and looks at a variety of philosophical and historical arguments for and against Christianity. Meanwhile the ID one deals only with science. To me, that indicates the exact opposite to what your post says.