Tuesday, July 10, 2018

#2039: Madison Murphy

We don’t know exactly who Madison Murphy is, or where she is now, but in 2012 she was a student at North Carolina State University. There she complained, in a student newspaper, about how evolution was presented in her classes: “My professor started talking about the Theory of Evolution as if it was a fact. This is a problem. Evolution is not a fact, it’s a theory. Defined, a theory is ‘an unproven assumption.’ Let’s treat it as such. I have no problem learning about evolution if it’s presented as what it is: unproven.” Not the faintest trace of how science works, or the basic terminology of science, such as “theory”, in other words. As such, Murphy is also under the misconception that young-earth creationism and intelligent design creationism are alternative theories that are – by virtue of being theories– on par with respect to evidence. So when her professor claimed that the theory of evolution is well established, she “found this to be deeply offensive. I am not ignorant simply because I choose to believe one theory over another.” (No, Murphy: you are ignorant, and you evidently don’t understand how.) And of course, to clinch it: Murphy does not actually know what the theory of evolution in fact is: “The theory of evolution can be explained simply: Complex creatures evolved from simplistic creatures over time. All creatures come from a common ancestor. Over time, mutations in genetic codes were maintained as they aided in survival. This process of mutation is called natural selection. Eventually, these mutations build up until a complex creature is the result.” That is not what natural selection is, and what she describes is not “the theory of evolution”.

Diagnosis: So perhaps it is mean to expose a young student’s ignorance here for all sorts of people to see, but when you put yourself out there and try to explain to the public things you don’t begin to understand but nevertheless don’t like, this is what might happen. Take the lesson. Get informed before you start spewing nonsense.


  1. The Madison Murphys of the world aren't entitled to an opinion. Practicing aggressive, willful ignorance in the face of overwhelming quantifiable evidence disqualifies you from the right to have your point of view respected.

    It's never mean to expose ignorance. Ignorance is dangerous. Willful ignorance leads to violence.

    I believe in science and I believe in God and have never seen the 2 as mutually exclusive. In fact, if you look really carefully at certain biological facts, you can see the divine architect at work. Scientists remind us that BLIND FAITH and FUNDAMENTALISM are never good things. Faith remind scientists that sometimes, the most stunning and important breakthroughs exist just past the point where the data becomes inconclusive. You have to suspend your disbelief and have faith that your scientific work was going the right way all along. Not easy to do in a world of excel sheets and calculators.

  2. Hard to believe you had to go back six years to find a fresh loon when they seem to be so ubiquitous nowadays.