A few days ago I called attention to a petition (apparently circulated by “Joe Hannon”) asking future Vice-President Mike Pence (ugh!) to ban the teaching of evolution in American public schools (you can see that petition here). It was pretty much over-the top-creationism, but that stuff is already so close to satire that many people thought the petition was a hoax. And others, amused and incensed at the same time, added funny (if sometimes juvenile) names to the screed.
Well, was it a hoax? The Discovery Institute certainly thought so, as evidence by David Klinghoffer’s sneering piece at Evolution News & Views saying that evolutionists like me, Dan Arel, and P. Z. Myers had fallen for a hoax—that phony petition.
But there seems every reason to doubt that “Joe Hannon” is a real person or that this petition is meant in earnest. In other words, these atheist evangelists appear to have have fallen for some pretty transparent fake news.
According to Myers, the email to him accompanying the link to the petition begins:
“Howdie. I thought you might be interested to read a fresh online petition which is directed at VP-elect Mike Pence calling on the incoming Trump Adminstration to impose an immediate,unconditional and indefinite nationwide moratorium on the teaching of evolution in public schools, including the threat of crippling financial sanctions on those schools that do not fully comply with this proposed executive action.”Now that, like much of the petition itself, reads like a parody to me. So does the conclusion:
“Merry Christmas to y’all,Joe Hannon
Republicans Abroad (Make America Great Again)”
Klinghoffer adds this:
Hannon” or whoever writes under his name might well be a resident of the UK or Canada, however, since he spells “fervor” the British way, “fervour.” Yet that doesn’t quite fit with the phony/folksy Americanisms, “Howdie,” “Merry Christmas to y’all.” Denyse O’Leary at Uncommon Descent suggests that the writer may be “trolling” a “prolific American anti-Trump activist living in Canada,” Joseph Huff-Hannon. Who knows?
But why would a fire-breathing creationist in search of signatures direct his anti-evolution petition to evolutionist P.Z. Myers and the presumably like-minded “lots of biologists and scientists” known to Jerry Coyne? Did “Hannon” send his petition to any evolution skeptics? A quick, admittedly unscientific survey of my email contacts in that category produces zero positive responses. It makes no sense, unless the writer was more interested in generating blog posts like those supplied by the credulous Coyne, Myers, and Arel.
Well, that’s speculation, but Klinghoffer, who’s obsessed with people like me, couldn’t resist a sneer.
Unfortunately, he might be hoist with his own petard, for, over at Panda’s Thumb, Matt Young and his commenters adduce evidence that Joe Hannon is not a hoaxer, but what one commenter called a “delusional fanatic,” and, at any rate, Hannon told Young that he has concrete plans to lobby congress to ban teaching evolution.
I’m still not 100% sure that that petition is real (and some of the names are funny), but it might well be, and, if so Klinghoffer himself has been taken in. But that’s what happens when you spend all your time sneering at evolutionists instead of adducing The Data That Are Just Around the Corner Showing That Intelligent Design is Correct. What happened with that, Klinghoffer? Why don’t you stop mocking evolutionary biologists and just SHOW US THE MONEY?