Casey Luskin on the Ad Hominem

Casey Luskin shows that, once again, antievolution correlates with moral relativism. In a post criticizing Ed Humes, Luskin slips in some criticism of me as well.

On a personal note, I am familiar with these kinds of attacks. In one single forum at, created and owned by a former National Center for Science Education staff member, I have been called no less than “Bizarre ignoramus,” “retarded,” “suck-up,” “Pathetic Loser,” “attack mouse, gerbil, rat, or clockwork powered plush toy,” “an orc,” “Annoying,” “a miserable loser with no life,” “an idiot,” “dishonest,” “ignorant cheap poxied floozie,” “fanatic and lunatic,” “A proven liar,” “incompetent,” and many other far more colorful attacks which are probably best left unprinted here on Evolution News and Views.

I don’t list this example to complain I happily forgive those who have attacked me, and in fact my main response to this behavior is sadness for how it brings the ID-evolution debate down into the gutter. Rather, I mention this example to point out that this example alone finds no counterpart anywhere in the ways that ID proponents have treated Darwinists. The internet Darwinist track record of name-calling against ID proponents speaks for itself, and Humes has portrayed the general nature of personal and ad hominem attacks in this issue exactly backwards from reality.

It is a travesty when anyone whether a supporter of evolution or ID is attacked in a mean-spirited fashion in this debate. Humes aims to shock his readers with how evolutionists are treated, while taking no interest in reporting how ID proponents are treated–which is dramatically worse than the treatment of Darwinists. This shows his partisan bias against ID proponents.

Luskin is, as usual, engaging in misdirection. Let’s start with his reference to me as a former NCSE staffer. That’s literally true; I did work for NCSE from late 2003 to early 2007. However, it has nothing at all to do with the event in question, the establishment of a forum on my website. I bought the domain in July, 2001, and have had a forum on it since not too long after that. The current forum software package has comments dating back to May, 2002, about a year and a half prior to my first employment by NCSE. Beyond that, Luskin’s mention of that is a simple guilt-by-association fallacy. Unable to demonstrate use of ad hominem argument on my part, Luskin apparently feels a need to read through the contributions of myriad other commenters and lay their prose at my feet. I provide a lightly moderated forum where people get to speak what is on their minds. That sort of thing is anathema to the religious antievolution movement, whose draconian moderation policies were legend even back so far as the dialup BBS discussion days. Yes, people get dissed from time to time. That’s more likely to happen when one side deals in deception as a strategic tool, as the religious antievolution movement has consistently done since the 1968 SCOTUS decision in Epperson v. Arkansas. Then there’s the issue that Casey Luskin has a curious connotation for “forgiveness”. In a comment supposedly left by Casey in the thread he cited, Casey specifically “forgives” me for the rough treatment he received there. Yet here we are several months later with Casey apparently retracting that forgiveness. Casey, you can either get props for sincerely forgiving someone for a transgression (though it helps if there actually was a transgression by that person), or you can bash them with the alleged transgression ad infinitum. It simply doesn’t work to try to get props for the sincerity of your “forgiveness” and still be using the supposed fault as your favorite rhetorical billy club.

Beyond the issue of Luskin going after me, Casey falls foul of reailty, because “intelligent design” creationism advocates have not been kind in their rhetoric when it comes to “Darwinists”, and this has been extensively documented, making his claim that IDC advocates don’t dish out the sort of stuff they sometimes take a simple falsehood. Now, Casey claims that the sort of personal abuse he has put up with is “dramatically worse” than how “Darwinists” get treated. This just goes to show the morally corrosive effects of religious antievolution, as it appears to have turned Casey into a moral relativist. If Casey were really concerned, he’d be working really hard at getting that log removed from the collective IDC advocate eye before worrying about the mote he’s bithering on about here.

Now we get to how this relates to Casey and his critique of Humes. Humes demonstrates poor treatment of people accepting evolutionary science (“Darwinism” is a shibboleth of the religious antievolution crowd, and certainly the folks showing bad behavior in Humes’ book weren’t distinguishing classes with any sort of nuance). Casey objects that, hey, IDC advocates get dissed too, and worse, even. That’s the well-known tu quoque fallacy, not a valid form of argument in anybody’s universe. Casey is also not into nuance, as he completely fails to note context as a relevant contributor to the discussion. It is a different context to note the poor peer treatment of a student in a public school who was dissed for acceptance of evolutionary science and that of a paid shill for an organization whose modus operandi has consistently been revealed and documented to be deceptive at virtually every level possible. So, Casey, if you are going to indulge in moral relativism, here’s a tip: at least go for analogically sound moral relativism. Dig up examples of (1) students (2) in public schools being (3) tormented and ostracized by (4) other students specifically because they (5) reject evolutionary science and (6) the other students have been urged by their parents and/or pastors to do so.

Will Casey be doing that? I don’t think so. The persecution of “heretics” is well-known to be far more common and more brutal than anything Casey is going to be able to find to fit the properties of a proper class of balancing examples. There’s certainly no hope that Casey will be able to substantiate his relativistic claim that students rejecting evolutionary science in public schools have had to put up with “dramatically worse” peer treatment than those accepting it. Quite the contrary.

As additional information, here’s something Casey Luskin penned a few years back and which should be illuminating concerning how he deigns to treat others versus the treatment he’d like to get himself:

[Eugenie] Scott definitely speaks “scientese”. She presents herself as a scientist, which she once was, who is trying to do the right thing for science. She is very charismatic, funny, and very good at getting people behind what she’s saying. It’s no wonder she’s the director of the NCSE. In the past I’ve compared Eugenie C. Scott to Darth Vader because she is full of internal contradictions, knows in her heart she’s lying, powerful, persuasive, and most importantly, she travels around representing the dominating power (the Empire) and fighting the good guys. All in the name of …well, I’m not exactly sure what her motivation is yet. It’s certainly not truth.

(On the other hand, there is the rebellion against the Empire. Small, understaffed, often outgunned and outmanned, but not outsmarted. However, the rebellion has the people of the galaxy behind them, and most importantly, the Force. Of course not all of us in the rebellion believe in the “force” (the analogy is God), but what unites the rebellion is the common belief in the problems with the current establishment, and the desire to replace it with something better. When we introduced ourselves in the class, I should have said I was Luke Skywalker, but I suppose I was under the control of her powers at the time so I just said I was Casey, an earth sciences major.)

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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