talk.origins (often capitalised to Talk.Origins or abbreviated as t.o.) is a moderated Usenet discussion forum concerning the origins of life, and evolution. It remains a major venue for debate in the creation-evolution controversy, and its official purpose is to draw such debates out of the science newsgroups, such as sci.bio.evolution.
In the early 1990s, a number of FAQs on various topics were being periodically posted to the newsgroup. In 1994, Brett J. Vickers established an anonymous FTP site to host the collected FAQs of the newsgroup. In 1995, Vickers started the TalkOrigins Archive web site as another means of hosting the talk.origins FAQs. It maintains an extensive FAQ on topics in evolutionary biology, geology and astronomy, with the aim of representing the views of mainstream science. It has spawned other websites, notably TalkDesign "a response to the intelligent design movement", Evowiki, and the Panda's Thumb weblog.
The group was originally created as the unmoderated newsgroup net.origins as a 'dumping ground' for all the various flame threads 'polluting' other newsgroups, then renamed to talk.origins as part of the Great Renaming. Subsequently, after discussion on the newsgroup, the group was voted to be moderated in 1997 by the normal USENET RFD/CFV process, in which only spam and excessive crossposting are censored. The moderator for the newsgroup is David Iain Greig (and technically Jim Lippard as alternate/backup).
The group is characterized by a long list of in-crowd jokes like the fictitious University of Ediacara, the equally fictitious Evil Atheist Conspiracy which allegedly hides all the evidence supporting Creationism, a monthly election of the Chez Watt-award for "statements that make you go 'say what', or some such.", pun cascades, a strong predisposition to quoting Monty Python and a habit of calling penguins "the best birds".
Apart from the fun, the group includes rebuttals to creationist claims. There is an expectation that any claim is to be backed up by actual evidence, preferably in the form of a peer-reviewed publication in a reputable journal. The group as a whole votes for a PoTM-award (Post of The Month), which makes it into the annals of TalkOrigins Archive.
- Horton, Mark (5 September 1986). "starter message for talk.origins". talk.origins. Web link. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
- "Ediacara University Home Page". Retrieved 20 September 2008.
- "The Evil Atheist Conspiracy". Retrieved 20 September 2008.
- Grumbine, Robert (5 May 2005). "Re: Chez Watt (was Re: I am a creationist)". talk.origins. Web link. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
- "TalkOrigins.org Post of the Month Archive". TalkOrigins Archive. 12 August 2007.