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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Coulter on the BBC

A couple of nights ago Ann Coulter was on the BBC Newsnight program. You can see video of her interview here, it only lasts just over 5 minutes.

For US readers I am sure you all know who Ann is and what has the got people so inflamed about her new book. For readers from elsewhere (i.e. mostly UK) if you don't know who Ann Coulter is I wouldn't worry about it (go google if you like). I only know thanks to having lived in the States and seen the books she writes and the interviews she does. In my opinion she is not a nice person and whatever valid points she might have get lost in the need to throw bile around and try to cause scandalous headlines (in pursuit of book sales).


Paxman was typically Paxman with her; somewhat aggressive and sneering. It is his interviewing style. For my money, Paxman doesn't espouse particularly liberal or conservative beliefs; to me, he often comes across as not interested in nonsense and he certainly does not suffer fools gladly. I like him.

However I think he failed in his interview. He gave Ann plenty of time to air her points which is good as an interviewer as long as you challenge those points. Her first point was about what she calls Darwinism. She claimed there was no evidence for evolution and it makes no sense. I am sure she has studied the subject long and hard with rigorous testing and examination of the records. Oh, no, she can't have otherwise she would know that what she said was false. If she had done the research and said what she said then I would have to conclude she was lying.

Paxman's question was whether she had an alternative? Did she believe that the Earth was created in 6 days? Coulter answered that she was not espousing an alternative just pointing out that the current theory was not supported by evidence and was clearly looney (we are related to Earthworms???).

Of course Paxman should have had the facts about evolution, the facts that there is evidence in the fossil record; that we can witness evolution in the laboratory with species that go through several generations in a few hours. How does Ann explain the fact that we do indeed share over 30% of our DNA with the Earthworm? Is the study of DNA going wrong somewhere?

Paxman, or his researchers, failed on this, relying instead on trying to use the creationism stick - something Ann was clever enough to avoid (she is not stupid).

I had to laugh later on when Paxo asked whether she truly thought that the media was a lefty institute given the amount of coverage she had received. Her reply was to instantly turn herself into the Martyr, sarcastically talking about the 'warm welcome' she had received on the show. That wasn't 'lefty', Ann, that was Paxman being genial.

6 comments:

Averroes said...

Oddly, the creationists count many Ph.D. biologists among their ranks. They are not lying.

Coulter herslelf seems to have taken her style after the Prime Minister's questions. I will admit that they are framed a little more in the British manner, but they are often quite snotty: "would the Proime Minister agree that the policy of his government vis-a-vis the excheqre has led to the downfall of trhe middole class in Great Britain, the suffering of the ppor here and in the EU couintries, and the financial ruin of the government treasury, and will certainly lead to the hobbling of future generations of our children being hpbbled by the bleak prospect of universal poverty?

When last i checked witht eh kloudest of the creationist voices, young earther, Aussie Ken ham (with whom i once had a debate), the loine was that there was no ervbolution of "kinds," which, near as i could tell, for mammals, was roughly at the genus level. They admit that wolves, dogs, coyotes, and foxes had a common origin, butnot that cats and dogs had a common origin.


As for your observation of the similarity of DNA, doesn't it make sense to you that if God found a good solution, he might reuse some of it? ESPECIALLY in animals which are a lot alike!

Kav said...

I never said they were lying, Averroes. Why would anyone lie about it? It makes no sense to. I think that Creationists and IDers truly believe what they say. In the case of creationists they are just wrong. For ID I am willing to extend that there may be something to the idea that an entity started it all, but I have no evidence for that. I am often conflicted on teh issue of whether there is a god or not; I waiver from atheist to agnostic to hopeful.

My point was that in asserting that there was no evidence for evolution Coulter was wrong. Deliberatley wrong? I don't know, as I say it depends on how much research into the subject she has really done.

Your final observations is reasonable enough. All I would say is that from the way we have seen DNA work the fact that we share some with earthworms speaks more to a relationship than the hand of a divine being. You could be right though, but for this topic and for the moment I'll go with the bulk of the evidence.

Averroes said...

All I would say is that from the way we have seen DNA work the fact that we share some with earthworms speaks more to a relationship than the hand of a divine being.

I don't think so. i think it depends on your belief. As they say in TA, "I'll see it when i believe it."

One of the reasons that evolution is so powerful is just that it so organizes a huge amount of data, and leads to more data. The "God" hypothesis does so also. The difference is that one is scientific, and at least theoretically refutable, while the other is metaphysical, and, therefore, not even theoretically falsifiable. the "God" hypothesis can be used to explain everything, and thus, in a scientific sense, explains nothing.

As for Coulter, she uis right that because evolution is such a high order theory, there is no particular evidewnce which can be used to frormally decide between it and any other theory. Remember, we don't look for "evidence for," but rather evidence that flsifies an hypothesis.

My own view of Coulter is that she is a material symbo,l of all that is wrong with American politics these days. for instance, it is never enough to disagree with another's policy, but it is alsways necessary for her to impugn there integrity, to quextion their motives, and to question their moral character. This is done on both sides.

All i know is that her publisher is very happy right now.

The Holywriter said...

Being a conservative, I bought a book of hers a few years ago...I threw it away as soon as I was done reading that.

Kav said...

I don't think so.
Well I do think so and so we'll agree to disagree :-)

My own view of Coulter is that she is a material symbo,l of all that is wrong with American politics these days. for instance, it is never enough to disagree with another's policy, but it is always necessary for her to impugn there integrity, to quextion their motives, and to question their moral character. This is done on both sides.

Sadly true. Its why I got fed up with so much of the political blogging. I still read a lot of them and follow whats going on (to a lesser degree) but I don't get involved. It really isn't worth it. When I am tempted to comment, for example on obviously intelligent bloggers who refuse to see their double standards, I just stop and think 'why will they listen to me?' and usually i think of no reason and so I just let it go...

Averroes said...

Well I do think so and so we'll agree to disagree :-)

My original comment stands. i wasn't saying that the people who think that DA facts speak to God's hand are correct. What I am saying is that your answer depends more on your belief than on any facts. The question is a bit amourphous, and doesn't lend itself to a definitive answer.

In other words, if you put yourself in the shoes of a sceintist, you can easily see why he would interpret CDNA as evidence of relatedness through some natural process, while if you put yourself in the shoes of a theist, you could see how he would interpret the same facts as evidence of God's hand.

I always try to understand whypeople believe the way they do.