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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Even I'm impressed.

Regular readers will likely remember last Friday when, relatively late in the evening, I posted on the apparent end of the Lenski saga. In short, Andrew Schlafly's most recent attempt to make an ass of himself in public had come to fruition and there was much rejoicing. As I also intimated, a considerable amount of spin-doctoring was taking place on Conservapedia, mostly aimed at smearing PNAS and, by extension, portraying Schlafly as some kind of martyr. As you might also guess, there has been a strong effort afoot to counter this attempt. While I just don't have the time to go into detail on it, some of the attempts to show Schlafly how much of a dumbass he is have been truly spectacular.*

So far I have resisted giving you a blow-by-blow of this process but Schlafly's most recent rhetorical gambit is just too funny not to comment on. As he has been getting pounded by reasonable people over his dog of a letter, young Andrew has obviously been getting frustrated. So frustrated, in fact, that he has invented a new disorder to explain why people disagree with him so much. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Evolution Syndrome:

Or, if you don't like the image:

Evolution syndrome is the tendency of some people to insist compulsively that their belief in evolution must somehow be true, and to spend nearly all of their time pushing that belief on others. It is reflected on the Internet by people who devote over 90% of their edits and postings to pushing their belief in evolution and insisting on censoring alternative views of the issue. They are particularly against teaching any alternative theories to children in school.

Evolution syndrome particularly afflicts people who have some educational background without having the intellectual depth of more accomplished peers.

Evolution syndrome can be seen on wikis, Usenet groups, faculty positions below full professorships, and some less selective doctoral programs.

There is a high incidence of atheism among this group and indeed, most atheists suffer from evolution syndrome.

Keeping an open mind and not obsessing about one's own views is the key to avoid suffering from evolution syndrome.

Oddly, as I read this article, I just hear a soothing announcer talking about Evolution Syndrome while a smiling couple rides mountain bikes or something, finishing up with:

"If you suffer from Evolution Syndrome, ask your doctor about LogicaNullus. It might be able to help. LogicaNullus- all you'll ever need."

And if that isn't funny enough, now that Schlafly has invented this fake disorder, he's invoking it to support his own claims:

I mean, folks, this is comedy gold! Any time someone disagrees, Schlafly has now set a precedent for craptacular debating tactics. Just take whatever position they're advocating, claim that advocating it strongly is a syndrome, and then observe that you can't get a fair hearing because everyone suffers from aforementioned syndrome. For example, I don't support Republican VP candidate and all-around clown Sarah Palin, but now instead of having a discussion about it Schlafly can just comment that I suffer from "Palin Opposition Syndrome" and therefore can't be trusted. Moreover, he might claim, so many otherwise-rational people suffer from this terrible disorder, that the electorate can't be trusted to vote in an election where she's on the ballot. How can you defeat such a brilliant tactic?

Eh. Mostly by laughing oneself silly. Seriously, folks, I can't make shit this funny up.

UPDATE- September 19, 2008: Yeesh. Looks like I'm a tad prescient:

Sure I called it "Palin Opposition Syndrome" and she calls it "Palin Derangement Syndrome" but, hey, I pretty much nailed it spot-on. Does anyone else find it disquieting/hilarious that conservatives are letting Andrew Schlafly call the rhetorical shots?

* In the event that Schlafly reverts this argument, you should be able to find a persistent, if poorly formatted, copy here.

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