Biology Evolution Intelligent design/creationism Science Skepticism/critical thinking

When it comes to refuting creationist nonsense, I am but slime…

from one of Michigan State University Professor Richard Lenski’s E. coli cultures.

Lenski’s second response to the clueless “request” of the creationist idiot Andrew Schlafly to provide his raw data to him for “independent review” supporting a recent PNAS paper (more here) by him that is yet another in a line of papers by evolutionary biologists that pretty much destroy the myth of “irreproducible complexity” deeply humbles me. It’s a classic in sliding the knife into one’s foe, carefully dissecting free an organ, pulling that organ out with a flourish, only to plunge to plunge the knife in again to continue the ruthless dissection, smiling politely all the while, leaving Schlafly utterly in the dark about his Epic Fail.


Although the second letter is pure genius, perhaps the first sentence of his first response to Schafly is the best:

I suggest you might want to read our paper itself, which is available for download at most university libraries and is also posted as publication #180 on my website.

Or maybe this gem from his second letter is even better:

First, it seems that reading might not be your strongest suit given your initial letter, which showed that you had not read our paper, and given subsequent conversations with your followers, in which you wrote that you still had not bothered to read our paper. You wrote: “I did skim Lenski’s paper …” If you have not even read the original paper, how do you have any basis of understanding from which to question, much less criticize, the data that are presented therein?

No, no, it’s got to be this gem of utterly brilliant sarcasm:

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! [] And lest you accuse me further of fraud, I do not literally mean that we have unicorns in the lab. Rather, I am making a literary allusion. []

Damn, him, he’s out-Respectful Insolenced™ Respectful Insolence™! (And he’s at Michigan State, too, not my alma mater the University of Michigan. Damn. He should start a blog.)

Unfortunately, because, like all creationists, Schlafly suffers the “arrogance of ignorance,” he’s probably totally unaware that he’s just been pwned on such a massive scale that it’s as though a strategic thermonuclear weapon was used to obliterate an ant colony (or an Erlenmyer flask full of an of E. coli culture, for that matter). After having seen Schlafly fail so epically at his tactic of “burying the opponent in discovery,” my guess is that he’ll whine about how the nasty scientist subjected him to ad hominem abuse and then bluster about making FOI requests for the data, assuming Lenski’s work was funded by the NIH or NSF. It’ll never once enter his tiny little brain that he’s just been dissected, sliced, and diced in such a painstakingly thorough manner that he should just quit before there’s nothing left but individual organs sitting in formalin in glass jars. (I’m a surgeon; I’m fascinated by anatomy; so sue me.) So should all the ID-apologists currently making hilarious comments on the matter over at Conservapedia and Uncommon Descent.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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