One thing you have to love about the Discovery Institute is their constant hypocrisy. Take for example, the recent post by Jonathan Wells, entitled Moving the goalpost.
For those of you unfamiliar with the logical fallacy of moving the goalpost, it describes a situation where one party says that if certain specific goals are met, then something is proven. However, when those goals are met, the group changes the goals or adds qualifiers.
For clarification I will take an example from this particular post. Many if not all Intelligent Design proponents (IDers) have said that there are no examples of speciation observed in living organisms. Scientists have pointed to the speciation of different plants by polyploidy as an example. Not being satisfied with this, Jonathon Wells now says that such examples do “not produce the major changes required for Darwinian evolution.”
Now that I think about it, maybe hypocritical isn’t the best word to use here. IDers don’t engage in moving the goalposts, because they do not really have goals or specific ideas. In fact, it has been said that ID is not interested in who, what, where, or why of the intelligent designer. Without any such characteristics, it is impossible to test the idea of ID. This lack of goals is exactly what makes ID a pseudoscience.
Getting back to Wells’ current post, it is obvious that he is not paying attention to current evolutionary theory. First, he says that the theory of evolution “has only one rule: survival of the fittest.” This is not what the theory of evolution states. Its actually more about reproductive success than fitness. Besides, there are other factors involved including genetic drift and geographic isolation.
He then goes on to say that evolution is “unguided.” No, it is guided by survivability. Calling evolution unguided is like saying that a train is unguided. Sure, there is no steering wheel to control it, but there is no doubt that the train is steered by the rails that it sits upon. These are central tenets to evolution and it is really surprising that Wells wouldn’t know them.
Wells claims that the Scientific American’s Steve Mirsky is engaging in moving the goalposts. He takes a recent tongue-in-cheek example by Mirsky of calling each dog breed as its own species:
face it, the only shot a male Chihuahua has with a female Mastiff involves rock climbing or spelunking equipment. Biologists clearly continue to include the two types of dogs within the same species out of modesty. But with creationists fighting evolution education throughout the country, the time calls for bold action. Let’s reassign the trembling, bug-eyed Chihuahua to its own species. Voilà, humans have observed speciation.
Voilà, indeed! If we cannot find evidence for the origin of new species, let’s just call dog breeds separate species. If Darwinism is in danger of losing, let’s just move the goalpost!
Is this post a joke? Mirsky was definitely joking. He even says so in his podcast. Wells presenting this as a true argument put forth by evolution proponents is dishonest and deceitful.