Tuesday, November 8, 2016

#1744: Mark Holmberg

A minor one, but still instructive for its illustration of how some (many?) people think, stunning ignorance and breathtaking stupidity. Mark Holmberg is apparently an investigative reporter and commentator for WTVR, Channel 6, the CBS affiliate in Richmond, Virginia. Holmberg qualifies for an entry because of his stunningly idiotic piece “Theory of evolution should be challenged – scientifically”. How stupid is it? Well, here’s the framing: “Why does the apple fall from the tree to the ground? The 325 year old law of gravity explains it. In science, a law is a theory that has been proven, without a shadow of a doubt.” That stupid. And just in case: No, that’s not the relationship between a scientific theory and a law, and you have to be audaciously ignorant of science to think it is. But you can probably predict the reasoning trainwreck that is going to follow from Holmberg’s framing. Oh, yes: “A century and a half after Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, it remains a theory. It hasn’t been proven.” And it follows with: “Even Darwin himself, 155 years ago, wondered why there are no transitional fossils – missing links – between not only man and ape but between dog and cats, fish and amphibian. In fact, all the animals alive today can be found in the most distant fossil records [trilobites and rabbits, all cuddling up together], although many have slowly changed over time to adapt to changing environments. But nothing showing one species turning into another.” In other words, Holmberg has apparently been perusing creationist literature and failed to even understand the positions those creationist authors arrived at by misunderstanding evolution.

And for the final flourish: “Me, I have a bachelor of science in biology, and have a lifelong fascination with this study of life. I am constantly amazed at the absolute certainty of peole [sic] who, armed with maybe one high school biology class, believe so completely and passionatey [sic] in the theory that man evolved from apes.” We haven’t double-checked his claims, but Holmberg may have grounds for claiming a refund; of course, given that this is Virginia, perhaps the institution that gave him his “education” was a particularly glitzy and expensive diploma mill.

Holmberg wrote the piece in support of one of the creationism bills submitted by Virginia House Delegate Richard Bell. The problem Holmberg, uh, identifies is of course that “this theory of evolution is considered a law by many. It’s often taught in schools as a law. It is widely believed as a law. Typically, anyone who doesn’t believe it is branded as a religious kook or an idiot.” Indeed.

Diagnosis: Religious kook and idiot. Minor figure, but his facepalm-inducing powers are impressive.


  1. "I was looking for some profiles on atheists. Go figure! Didn't find any..."

    You didn't look either, did you? Bill Maher, Jesse Ventura and Larry Darby off the top of my head; probably quite a few more. Of course, fundie kooks vastly outnumber atheists because fundamentalism is loony (and fundies, as opposed to atheists and more moderate people tend to make their religious beliefs an integral part of the denialism or lunacy they are promoting) and the number of fundies in the US vastly outnumber the number of self-described atheists.

    "It would seem that you have an axe to grind with anyone who opposes your theory of evolution"

    You managed to notice that denialists who reject established science for non-scientific reasons are a target group here? Good for you.

    I don't think the theory of evolution is *my* theory, though. In fact that's part of the point: If you're not an expert yourself on a topic it is rational to defer judgment to (consensus among) the people who are. Sure, experts may be mistaken, but they are infinitely more likely to be right than non-experts who reject what the experts are saying based on reasons that clearly show that they have no understanding of the evidence relevant to the issue at hand - people like Holmberg, who apparently doesn't know the difference between a "law" and a "theory", a completely basic distinction that applies to science across the board.

  2. His brother is Eric Holmberg, another American Loon.