Coulter’s Creationism: a Virulent Mix of Ignorance & Sexism

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.

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23 comments

  1. MarshallDog · ·

    I really want to see someone put Coulter on the spot and make her answer one question: Does it bother you at all that you are a woman? After listening to her rant constantly against women in any position of power it would be interesting to hear her response. Would she dare hide from the question by declaring it sexist? I mean, we all know that sexism is a libral concept, right?

  2. As a biologically oriented scientist (which is what a fisheries oceanographer is), I have to say I’m not at all surprised by Ms. Coulter’s blast against biologists. Sadly she isn’t alone on her thinking. I know well meaning physical oceanographers who dismiss biologists and ecologists just as easily because the physical oceanographers see the ecologists concerns about ocean experimetns as a threat to their research money.

  3. @ Marshall: THAT’s a question! She’d probably dodge and go into, “well, I’m ashamed of the feminist culture of victimhood,” blah blah…

    @ Philip, that’s scary. I know there’s always the fun rivalry between the disciplines (http://xkcd.com/435/), but it’s weird to call what’s historically one of the more important disciplines “not a science.”

  4. ScooterA · ·

    As someone who has spent the last 3 years of his life with a less than healthy fascination for growing bacteria on plates and then shredding the little bastards to get at the creamy DNA core… I have to say I am less than shocked.

    I mean at this point is anyone really surprised when someone from the American conservative movement takes a shot at biology? At least Coulter isn’t running for a major office.

    Who wants to take bets on the next branch of science to be disavowed?

  5. My money is on the social sciences. Conservatives like Coulter are never happy when a new study comes out about how their highly vaunted moral values do more harm then good.

  6. growing bacteria on plates and then shredding the little bastards to get at the creamy DNA core…

    Awesome.

    And I bet she’s already disavowed social sciences, because those things tend to prove that women are people.

  7. As someone with two social science degrees I can say that the Left gutted our field a long time ago….I don’t see what more harm conservatives can do.

  8. Gotchaye · ·

    Neuroscience or artificial intelligence research, I imagine. Social science doesn’t have the cultural cachet to attract more than the occasional ‘bah humbug’. Also, the right likes a lot of things that come out of happiness and intelligence studies and the like. But evidence that there can be a mechanistic model of the human brain or a computer that can solve original problems gores a lot of sacred cows. You can only insist that our brains being hyper-sensitive to patterns and agents is actually even better evidence that God created us to know Him better so long before it all tumbles down and you have to start burning neuroscientists. Give it twenty years, I think.

    Nice to see that she has such a high opinion of the sciences’ ability to provide an attractive and welcoming environment for female students, though. We’re still very much a boys’ club, which is unfortunate for a whole variety of reasons.

  9. Ironically, there is currently an Ann Coulter column ad right bellow this post. Gotta love targeted ads.

  10. @ Igor: LOL! Click it, take their money!!!!

    @ Mike: what do you mean?

  11. I’m reminded of my high school history and political science teacher’s comment on the social sciences: any field that has to spend that much time trying to prove it’s a science isn’t a science.

    Anyway, the social studies have been rightly attacked for years for the ideologically neutral reason that they’re useless. Conservative pundits wouldn’t have that good a basis for denigrating them. They don’t need to crash our party. :)

    And Ames, far more relevant would be http://www.xkcd.com/451/

  12. Steve, was that Ms. Smith? That almost sounds more like Gannon, or Mr. A on a bad day.

    Anyways… I think the social sciences are of limited use. Linguistics is quite valuable when it’s done right, but a political tool in the wrong hands. Similarly, polisci had its heyday when game theory made sense, back in the bad-old-days of MAD, but I agree that mathematical polisci has long since outlived its usefulness, when studied beyond the 300 level. Someone tell the Rice PoliSci department, PLEASE.

    I don’t have the knowledge to comment on sociology, etc.

  13. Anzezzle · ·

    I’m a fan of sociology, when “done right” (but doesn’t that apply to anything?) And how about psychology, particularly as it moves towards neuroscience? Or economics?

  14. The social sciences have tons of importance. Unfortunately the Left has ‘liberalized’ a lot of what we do. History has moved much farther into analysis and speculation rather than a recounting of events. ‘Applied’ anthropolgy is really just a form of academic activism. Sociology has been extemely polticized.

  15. It was indeed her, Ames.

  16. Mike,

    What’s wrong with historical analysis? It’s just as important to know why an event occurred in history as to know how and when it happened. True, the analysis is often skewed by the analyzer’s biases, but personal bias is common amount liberals and conservatives.

  17. As a chemist I find Ms. Coulter’s comments bizarre. Insomuch job outlook is a barometer (questionable perhaps), straight, pure chemistry jobs are flat to declining (in part because chemistry in the US at least historically has been involved with manufacturing). Biochemistry, on the other hand in skyrocketing. I certainly wish I had a more in depth biology background.

  18. Jello,

    There’s nothing wrong with analysis as to why…but it should still be a ‘timeless’ analysis. Analyzing things through contemporary prisms is dangerous.

  19. I’ll certainly agree that trying to reinterpret history through a contemporary bias is dangerous. Ms. Coulter is well known for doing just that. However, we can not place any part of our history behind glass and how we view past events will inevitably change as new information comes to light.

  20. I’m so glad everyone liked this post… to be clear, I was there, and gasped when she dropped that line :)

  21. @ Mike, you know you and I agree on this. For example, I don’t really get people who think less of Abraham Lincoln because he was a racist. Of course he was. He wasn’t a saint. But he was years ahead of his time, and that ain’t nothin.

  22. James F · ·

    After admitting to being an old earth creationist…

    *gasp* HERESY! Someone alert Ken Ham!

  23. […] abortion issue is more nuanced than they currently admit. Small progress, sure, but a step above Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly. 0 Comments No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on […]

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