"Intelligent" Design versus
Donald Kennedy's Editorial ("Twilight for the
enlightement?", 8 Apr., p.
165) highlights how ineffective the scientific
community has been in the battle for the minds of
the American public. Arguing details of scientific
facts before this audience has been largely
unproductive. Perhaps it is time to take a lesson
from recent political campaigns: Instead of
defending your position, attack a weakness of the
opposition and repeat (again and again), with a
modicum of humor. The following script has been
effective in dealing verbally with
creationists/intelligent design adherents.
"You have a philosophic choice between evolution
or belief in ID, so called intelligent design. But
even a first-year engineering student would be
embarrassed to have designed your lower back with
the extreme bend that allows you to stand erect even
though your pelvis slants forward for
knuckle-dragging like all our near relatives. You
probably have had braces or wisdom teeth extracted
because there are too many teeth for the size of
your mouth. Then there are your sinuses, with a
flawed drainage system that would provoke laughter
from a plumber. Yet evolution provides a ready and
rational explanation for all these design failures:
by progressive changes into an erect posture, by
shortening of a mammalian muzzle into a face, and by
expansion of our large brains to crowd the facial
bones. So take your choice: Do you prefer evolution
or an ID whose letters may as well stand for
After a bit of flustering, the ID adherent
usually mumbles something about our inability to
know the mind of God. The reply: "Indeed, ID is not
science but religion and should be taught as such."
These simple facts need little explanation, bring
evolution to a personal level, and leave the ID
adherent on the defensive, all with a bit of humor.
Others may wish to try it.
Donald U. Wise
Department of Geosciences
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003, USA.