Yesterday, “Politico” gave a brief run-down of Ann Coulter’s Monday-night showdown at Radio City Music Hall with Bill Maher. Those who were there, though, will notice that they left out a good number of highlights. After trotting out a twenty-year-old editorial to suggest that liberals should somehow be estopped (no apologies for lawyer-speak) from protesting the right’s invocation of Obama’s middle name to inflame and terrify, she went on to argue that because adult stems cells are so promising, embryonic cells are now useless, a partisan twist on the fact that embryonic stem cells, while still very useful, aren’t as research-critical today as they would’ve been eight years ago. Both are good examples of Ann’s primary debate strategy: blow the left’s little foibles out of proportion, distort the evidence until it fits your conclusion, repeat.
About halfway through the debate – in a section “Politico” failed to report – Coulter turned this technique to tearing down evolution. It was truly a sight to behold. After admitting to being an old earth creationist, Coulter claimed that science has never found any transitional forms, invoked publicly-disgraced “biologist” Michael Behe, cried censorship, and asked Maher to admit that evolution is a “religion.”
Maher’s best response would’ve been to note the many popularly-known transitional forms, both hominid and animal; gently remind her that even creationists acknowledge the existence of transitional forms; and close by noting that the non-perjured elements of Behe’s testimony in Kitzmiller actually proved that ID creationism has NO scientific basis.
Sadly, Maher’s no scientist, and he took the alternate path of reminding Coulter that 99.9% of scientists disagree with her – so who are you gonna trust? Despite skimping on directly contradictory evidence, this turned out to be tactically sound: Coulter’s only response was to really break out the crazy, with this reply:
Half of those are these women scientists who faint at the sight of blood, or biologists. Biologists aren’t real scientists.
And there you have it: the only way Coulter can get out of evolution’s firmly scientific basis is to discount both the entire field of biology and the contributions of all women scientists. If it were possible for me to take Coulter seriously after that little rant, I’d be offended on behalf of the many brilliant women scientists I know. But at this point, she’s more like the ugly puppy that accidentally wets the carpet: sure, it’s wrong, but you knew it was coming.