The Lenski Affair: When Will the Evolution Concern Troll Brigade Arrive?

I’m surprised that I haven’t seen a spate of posts from certain quarters proclaiming that the Lenski-Schlafly dustup is good for creationists. I think the assessment by RationalWiki is right on target:

Mr. Schlafly certainly intended that his letters to Prof. Lenski would have the effect of somehow discrediting his work or discomforting him in some way. In the event the consequences couldn’t have been more different.

*As a result of Mr. Schlafly’s tomfoolery he has raised the status of Prof. Lenski’s evolution-demonstrating paper from the status of “Highly Significant” to “Internet Science-blog Phenomenon”. It is difficult to think of any other action which would have so raised the profile of this research.
*Many non-specialists will no doubt have taken an interest in this exchange. For many, the take-home sound bites will be “Scientist proves Evolution in Lab” and “Religious Fundamentalists don’t Understand Science”. Others may go on to gain a deeper understanding as a consequence.
*Conservapedia has once again become the laughingstock of the Internet. And this time the blame can’t be put on any alleged parodists. Mr. Schlafly personally started the ball rolling, continued with it against the publicly-expressed doubts of his associates, and went back a second time when he felt he didn’t like the first answer.
*By refusing to include the link to RationalWiki in Prof. Lenski’s second reply, Mr. Schlafly has done more than any other individual to raise RationalWiki’s profile on the net. Amazingly, Conservapedia then compounded the error by clumsily attempting to hide its own open correspondence concerning the matter.

In conclusion, it is difficult to imagine a course of action more incredibly, enormously, staggeringly counter-productive to his cause than that undertaken by Mr Schlafly.

Keep in mind that Lenski not only rebutted Schlafly’s arguments (such as they were), he also made it clear that Schlafly should not be taken seriously (from the second response; emphasis in the original):

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….
Second, your capacity to misinterpret and/or misrepresent facts is plain in the third request in your first letter…

That’s right: Lenski’s first two points were that i) Schlafly is illiterate; and ii) he’s a delusional liar.
Heavens to Betsy! Someone get me my fainting couch! Actually, this is the approach I’ve advocated around here for quite some time.
But have no doubt, this is somehow good for creationists.
Update: Shit.
Update, part deux: Martin responds.

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20 Responses to The Lenski Affair: When Will the Evolution Concern Troll Brigade Arrive?

  1. I’m sure a certain other SBer has a lengthy post in the works, complete with a picture of Lenski sporting a caption admonishing him to step aside and let others (i.e., him) be spokesmen for science.

  2. Blake Stacey says:

    I hadn’t actually given the matter much thought, but now that you’ve raised the point — yeah, where are those dashing young communications experts with the nice hair?

  3. ngong says:

    Schlafly would have been much smarter to take Behe’s approach of poo-pooing the significance of the paper. Instead, he gives the impression that the results are so mind-bogglingly pro-evolution that they must be fraudulent.

  4. llewelly says:

    The ‘dashing young communications experts’ seem to have learned the folly of their ways.

  5. Blake Stacey says:

    It’s always possible that they’ve learned the error of pissing off the blogosphere. . . and have moved on to, say, corrupting the AAAS’s regard for truth.

  6. zy says:

    They will arrive when Lenski stoops to swearing and aggressive posturing, i.e. not anytime soon.

  7. Blake Stacey says:

    It didn’t take swearing or aggressive posturing the last time.

  8. Martin says:

    Lol, I’m a concern troll now? Well I apologise if attempting to shed some light on the similarities between Andy’s tactics and other junks scientists is somehow trolling 🙂
    Seriously though, before I get a dozen SciBlings with torches storming my site, I didn’t say that the approach of Lenski or the Pharyngulistas was wrong, I just pointed out that there might be a bit more depth to Schlafly’s strategies than people realize. I’m all for righteous smack-downs – just read my blog and you’ll see – I’m just wary of assuming this debate is over and won.

  9. Julie Stahlhut says:

    Lenski did precisely what was called for under the circumstances. No more, no less. Perfect. All scientists and science teachers should take notes, and more should do exactly what Lenski did when faced with a situation like this.
    Of course, since Andrew Schlafly makes William Dembski look like Walter Cronkite, this was about as simple a situation as one could ask for.

  10. Martin,
    fair enough, but I don’t think anyone was arguing that this was the final, pentultimate victory, but simply that this was a good day: creationists were knocked back.

  11. Martin says:

    @Julie: I completely agree that Lenski’s response was perfect. By offering Schlafly data and access to samples, he has effectively called Andy’s bluff.
    @Mike: I think you’re reading into my post more than was there, thanks to all the baggage on SB about the framing debate. I think this was a very good day, and I don’t want to piss on anyone’s parade at all. I just wanted to add a little bit of balance to the many other posts on Lenski and the Nitwit. I think that’s an attitude that we should encourage, and it was slightly deflating – especially as a fan of your righting in general – to have my blog linked to as “shit”, lol.
    Anyway, no worries, I think you get my stance on this now, and I shan’t be deleting your feed any time soon, lol.

  12. Graculus says:

    to have my blog linked to as “shit”,
    In English, “shit” is an exclaimation as well as a noun.

  13. Martin says:

    I know – unlike most people here, I am actually English 😛

  14. pough says:

    Way off-topic, but I just gotta say that “lay science” is a totally hot name.

  15. Martin says:

    At one point, I was thinking of having the tag-line “science gets laid”, lol. I don’t know if I’ll keep the name long-term though.

  16. khefera says:

    @mad mike
    penultimate, ur doin it wrong.

  17. Graculus says:

    I know – unlike most people here, I am actually English 😛
    So am I 😛 😛 😛
    (For values of “English” that include “Yorkshire”)

  18. Martin says:

    Yorkshire? I can’t top that! Good to see a fellow Brit here though. This may make sense to you then – is it just me, or does Mike the Mad Biologist’s profile picture look a lot like Rich Hall?

  19. Unsympathetic reader says:

    Oh, it looks like Schlafly is at it again, digging deeper into his ditch. Now he’s examining the ‘errors’ in Lenkski’s paper. Andy claims his statements are well-referenced but…
    This is fun.

  20. sex shop says:

    thanks for all

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