Monday, July 10, 2006

Counter Coulter II

As pointed out before, Ann Coulter has written a book of breathtaking inanity, which is now second on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list (after topping the list for several weeks, I believe). Among the usual preposterous claims against, you guessed it, liberals (a term of abuse here in the US), she devoted two chapters to "debunking" evolution. People who have actually read the relevant chapters have not been impressed. Here's a representative sample: Darwin Central, Right Wing Professor, Talk Reason, Pharyngula, Media Matters, Loom. After that, I'm not tempted, but I'd like to comment on one passage from Coulter's book that has been quoted often:
Throw in enough words like imagine, perhaps, and might have -- and you've got yourself a scientific theory! How about this: Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don't accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat.
That's basically how the argument for evolution goes [emphasis in original].
Anyone who knows anything about science will know that this is about as ludicrous a representation of the scientific process that has led to the nearly universal acceptance of evolution as one could come up with (apparently, prompted by a misreading of an essay by Zimmer, of all people). The irony is that Coulter has actually spewed a perfect analogy for creationism, not evolution. For example, here's the Wikipedia entry describing the Zulu creation myth:
The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, is the Zulu creator. He came from the reeds and from them he brought forth the people and the cattle. He created everything that is: mountains, streams, snakes, etc. He taught the Zulu how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.
Notice any similarities? This is the last one of forty-nine creation myths listed. Most of them are just as well supported by evidence as the giant racoon flatulence creation myth (the other ones are simply too vague). They are also mutually inconsistent.

Coulter should stop writing about things she doesn't understand. Better stick to something she's obviously good at, like plagiarism (for example, see here, here, here, here).