Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Onion satirzes; UncommonlyDense misses joke

The well-noted satirical paper recently published a piece called, "Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain" on September 5. It includes the following graphic:

But does the article make fun of supporters of evolutionary theory? It reads:
A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.

"I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits," said Darlene Freiberg, one among a growing crowd assembled here to see the mysterious stain, which appeared last Monday on one side of the Rhea County Courthouse. The building was also the location of the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" and is widely considered one of Darwinism's holiest sites. "Forgive me, O Charles, for ever doubting your Divine Evolution. After seeing this miracle of limestone pigmentation with my own eyes, my faith in empirical reasoning will never again be tested.

Take a look at the language in the above passage as well as this one:
Since witnesses first reported the unexplained marking—which appears to resemble a 19th-century male figure with a high forehead and large beard—this normally quiet town has become a hotbed of biological zealotry. Thousands of pilgrims from as far away as Berkeley's paleoanthropology department have flocked to the site to lay wreaths of flowers, light devotional candles, read aloud from Darwin's works, and otherwise pay homage to the mysterious blue-green stain.

Everything is written as if it were the site of a religious image where its followers go (The Onion does this often; its previous article was "Bret Farve Getting that Retirement Itch Again").

Scientists don't (usually) act this way, but some religious people do.

And ID supporters criticize supporters of modern evolutionary theory (my term, the correct term is the modern evolutionary synthesis; in the US critics of the theory refer to it as Darwinism and its supporters as Darwinists -- calling the modern evolutionary synthesis is reductionist, as the theory has surpassed Darwin's original formulation) as being followers of a religion.

Hence the joke is lost on them: the article is presented on Uncommonly Dense as an example of Poe's Law, a law understood as such:
Without a blatant display of humour, it is impossible to tell the difference between religious Fundamentalism and a parody thereof.

Hence the suppositions that this one blog (run by an apparently mental ill fellow who's been banned from several blogs -- Panda's Thumb, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Pharyngula, and apparently other science blogs) is actually a parody. Another example, read Welcome to the PlainDrome -- a note on the side says it's a parody and is not Sarah Palin's official site.

Supporters of the modern evolutionary theory are not fundamentalists -- quite the opposite, in fact. They (we) know that the theory as surpassed Darwin's observations and that they do not depend on the opinions of one man (one reason given as why not to support or "believe in " evolution is that Darwin supposedly "converted" on his death bed, recanting his theory of evolution). And no one goes to see a stain of Darwin on the wall.

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