Dé Máirt, Meitheamh 24, 2008

So Here's a Little Link from Conservapedia.


Follow it and you find a conversation between Conservapedia founder Andrew Schlafly, (who we can be reasonably certain is at this moment smiling approvingly while mother Phyllis belittles his wife's chicken Marcella) and one Dr. Richard Lenski, evolutionary biologist and professor at Michigan State. The conversation consists of Schlafly's bullying attempts to get Dr. Lenski to 'explain himself' and 'show' the data gathered for a study showing that E. Coli bacteria evolve (duh-duh-duh) over time in order to better fit into their environments. Lenski replies that the data for the experiment is thoroughly documented in the paper he wrote for it, and helpfully points out that Schlafly could download the paper from most any university library if he should ever care to read the study he is criticizing.

Schlafly than makes a huffy second request for data, again making it clear that he has still not read the paper and does not seem to know exactly what "scientific data" entails. Lenski's reply to this is, magnificent.

"...It is my impression that you seem to think we have only paper and electronic records of having seen some unusual E. coli. If we made serious errors or misrepresentations, you would surely like to find them in those records. If we did not, then – as some of your acolytes have suggested – you might assert that our records are themselves untrustworthy because, well, because you said so, I guess. But perhaps because you did not bother even to read our paper, or perhaps because you aren’t very bright, you seem not to understand that we have the actual, living bacteria that exhibit the properties reported in our paper, including both the ancestral strain used to start this long-term experiment and its evolved citrate-using descendants. In other words, it’s not that we claim to have glimpsed “a unicorn in the garden” – we have a whole population of them living in my lab!..."

The thing that makes this such a beautiful moment in internet history is that Schlafly printed the dialogue, which everyone but him can immediately recognize as an absolute rhetorical drubbing, on his very own FAS baby, Conservapedia.com, under the headline, "Take a good look at the attitude our tax dollars are paying for."

I do suppose that it costs money to actually learn something instead of believing in that what we must not think about, but more to the point is the fact that it's Lenski's bad attitude that Schlafly thinks he is revealing, this man who was accused of shoddy record-keeping and outright fraud in a project he had been working on for twenty years, simply because it is proof that evolution exists, and so simply had to be untrue. The sense of entitlement Schlafly feels towards "lesser Americans", the ones who read what they criticize or even the ones who go through college without blocking out all of the information that God doesn't want them to know, is nauseatingly clear.

If you don't have the time to read the entire exchange, you'll find out everything you need to know by how the two mens signitures Schlafly his letters as "Andy Schlafly, B.S.E., J.D. www.conservapedia.com" while the man who has spent the past twenty years working on a hugely important biological study and can also claim the incredible accomplishment of knowing what the hell he's talking about signs as "Richard Lenski."

"In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation … the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not … express themselves in ideas but only … in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas" Lionel Trilling-1950


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