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Calling Karl Giberson: Human “Tail” in the News

David Klinghoffer


This one looks real, though with news reported in the British tabloids you never can be sure. The story in the Daily Mail is that a 13-year-old boy in India was born with a 7-inch tail and today is worshipped as the incarnation of a monkey god.

Arshid has to use a wheelchair and suffers from an undiagnosed disorder.
Some doctors in India have told the family it is down to brittle bones while others have said it is due to the ‘tail’ growth protruding from his spine.
Others have suggested he has a form of spina bifida called meningocele.
This develops when membranes poke through a hole between the vertebrae, and it can lead to partial paralysis.
This month he is due to see a doctor who has said he can successfully remove the appendage — but his family are sceptical and say they would rather he kept his tail than undertake a risky operation.

It’s not much of a confirmation of Giberson’s claim that the phenomenon of human “tails” is a problem for Darwin skeptics. You’ll remember that theistic evolutionist Dr. Giberson said in a debate with Stephen Meyer that babies born with tails — “perfectly formed, even functional,” he wrote later at The Daily Beast — strengthen the case for our descent from a common tailed ancestor. He used a Photoshopped photo of a tailed baby to help make his point:

I showed pictures of otherwise healthy humans who had been born with webbed feet and tails. I asked the challenging question: “Why does the human genome contain instructions for the production of features we don’t use?” The scientific explanation is that we inherited these instructions from our tailed ancestors but the instructions for producing them have been shut off in our genomes.

He has since apologized for the phony photo but as far as I know Giberson stands by the argument that “true” tails are vestiges of evolutionary history rather than, as certainly seems to be the case here, merely tragic birth defects.
I will not subject you to the YouTube video or other photos, which hardly depict an “otherwise healthy” boy, but you can find it all at the Daily Mail article. I don’t think that Dr. Giberson will be using these in his next debate against an intelligent-design proponent — not only because the images are too upsetting but because by using such real photos he would undermine his own argument.

I’m on Twitter. Follow me @d_klinghoffer.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.

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ScienceThe Myth of Human Tails