Darwinism Evolutionary psychology

A hundred people walked out of Darwin/evo psych indoctrination lecture at Oxford?

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No, never thought it would happen. But here’s principal witness, Darwin and Dawkins follower Sue Blackmore:

I was invited to give a lecture on memes by the “Oxford Royale Academy”, an institution that has nothing to do with the University of Oxford but hosts groups of several hundred 17-18 year-olds for two weeks of classes and, I guess, some kind of simulation of an ‘Oxford experience’. I was told they were of 45 nationalities and I assumed many different religions. So I prepared my lecture carefully. I tried it out the day before on my husband’s grandson, a bright mixed-race 16 year-old from Paris, and added pictures of the latest craze for ‘Fatkini posts’ and more videos, including my favourite Gangnam Style parody (Python style), but I wasn’t going to avoid the topic of religious memes – religions are an example, par excellence, of memeplexes that use wicked tricks to ensure their own survival. I simply made sure that my slides included many religions and didn’t single one out.

Looking back I should have seen trouble coming early on. I began with a pile of stuffed animals on the desk that I use to illustrate natural selection. Many laughed at my ‘dangerous predator’ eating them but at the word ‘evolution’ a young man in the second row began swaying side to side and vigorously shaking his head. I persevered, trying to put over the idea that evolution is inevitable – if you have information that is copied with variation and selection then you must get (as Dan Dennett p50 puts it) ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’. It is this inevitability that I find so delightful – the evolutionary algorithm just must produce design, and once you understand that you have no need to believe or not believe in evolution. You see how it works. So I persevered.

Yes, she should have seen the trouble coming. Stuffed toys are not life. She was offending people in what followed.

She basically trotted out all the usual stuff but with—here I speak partisanly, perhaps—twisted messages.

The Canadian free speech movement – to which I proudly belong – is not against the Muslim religion (some of our number are Muslims). We just say people must have the legal right under English Common Law to discuss and criticize its teachings without fear.

But that isn’t an academic lecture, either, let alone a serious theological argument.

Instead of offending people with her ridiculous evo psych theories, Blackmore should defend her ideas against a Christian, Muslim, or Hindu apologist.

William Lane Craig?

Added: Isn’t the real takeaway message of this story that media-friendly Darwinbabble no longer sells like it used to? Did those people riot or beat the speaker up? Tell me if this is wrong, but they just walked out.  Like you or I would walk out of a dull  show or change the channel. – O’Leary for News.

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

45 Replies to “A hundred people walked out of Darwin/evo psych indoctrination lecture at Oxford?

  1. 1
    cantor says:

    I persevered, trying to put over the idea that evolution is inevitable – if you have information that is copied with variation and selection then you must get (as Dan Dennett p50 puts it) ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’. It is this inevitability that I find so delightful – the evolutionary algorithm just must produce design, and once you understand that you have no need to believe or not believe in evolution. You see how it works.

    Yes, it works… to change the size of finch beaks by a few percent back-and-forth.

    This woman should study operations research for a couple of years and then come back and give a credible explanation how undirected RMNS fashions kidneys, livers, wings, and brains. She could even use her puppets if that would help.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    Wow, you just plug chaos into a designed algorithm and design just emerges. It’s a miracle!

  3. 3
    GBDixon says:

    She was not only offensive but very wrong scientifically. Behe has shown, and AFAIK it has not been refuted, that in all but the simplest cases design is most certainly NOT what emerges.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Oxford Royale Academy seems like it would attract above average students. Probably not easy to get in. http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/

    This walkout gives me hope for the future. Smart kids.

  5. 5
    Sebestyen says:

    ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’ makes as much sense as “standing in the corner of a circular room” or “drawing a red line with a blue pen”…

    Sebestyen

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    By walking out of the lecture the young students missed the unique opportunity to learn about the origin of the cell fate determinants segregation mechanisms operating within the asymmetric mitosis. Too bad. Now we don’t have anyone to tell us what that brilliant professor said about that important part of biology. 🙁

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    I’m sure I remember her being reported in a Sunday newspaper (without comment), as having stated that Einstein’s theories had not been proved!

    She must have made a pretty good living as TV companies’ tame, materialist-science apologist, on ‘documentary’ programmes on any kind of supernatural topic, on which she used to be regularly wheeled out – often just to provide balance!!! Perhps she still is.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Oops! sorry, my apologies…
    Just realized that brilliant professor doesn’t know how the intrinsic asymmetric mitosis works, much less how its mechanisms originated.
    Ok, in that case, the students who walked away of that lecture did not miss any important information. Next time don’t even attend that kind of ‘hogwash’ lectures. Waste of time.

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    The author of a medical textbook on human development is a Canadian Muslim. I may not share his theological views, but agree with his opinion, expressed in the introduction to his book, that human development is a miracle. Curiously that paragraph was removed after the 7th edition of that textbook. Can anyone figure why?

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    I expect the culprit realised that everything around us is a miracle, including life and consciousness, and decided it was too trite a comment…. and has shamefacedly jettisoned their promissory note.

  11. 11
    News says:

    Are people starting to evaluate new atheism in a sane way? Like, right, wrong, I dunno. But the stuffed toys?

    Dionisio at 9, I won’t ask you who that guy was because I wouldn’t risk wrecking his career, and the people who removed the paragraph have a financial interest, so … But they have to cater to you know what.

    Peaceful mass walking out on the stuffed toys could send s message.

  12. 12
    Querius says:

    Bravo, Dionisio! 🙂

    And Sebestyen, since we “know” it started as chaos, and ended with the university bureaucracy, order obviously musta risen out of chaos without intelligent intervention! We now just have to find and force fit the mountains of data waiting to be discovered!

    Axel, my theory is that the culprit must have been embarrassed at the inclusion of unsanctioned information that most certainly would offend the extremely delicate sensibilities of the indoctrinants known as students, and the even more fragile sensibilities of many of their professors, who would view such a statement as the equivalent of noisy flatulence at a perfume conference. 😉

    -Q

  13. 13
    lifepsy says:

    I persevered, trying to put over the idea that evolution is inevitable – if you have information that is copied with variation and selection then you must get (as Dan Dennett p50 puts it) ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’.

    More likely stability, cyclical variation, or degradation of information that’s already there… or extinction…. ya know, what’s actually observed and what actually makes sense.

    I guess Darwinian mysticism can only hide itself in biology classrooms and lectures for so long.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    OT:

    Cell’s Molecular Machines Arouse Fascination – August 9, 2014
    Spark plugs: Biochemists have known for a long time that ATP powers most chemical reactions in the cell, but how does it work? There has to be a “spark plug” of sorts to put it over the energy barrier, a press release from Heidelberg University explains:
    “Biomolecular motors are protein molecules responsible for mechanical movement in cells. These smallest of known motors use the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as fuel, which all living organisms use as a source of energy for processes that require it. In order to understand how these cell motors use ATP to function, they can be compared to an automobile engine, in which energy is released by burning petrol. Because petrol does not ignite by itself, energy must be applied to initiate the combustion reaction. This job is done by the spark plug. Energy is not released until the heat energy of the spark is applied to overcome the energy barrier of petrol combustion. According to Stefan Fischer, there are a number of parallels to biomolecular motors. The ATP molecule is stable and like petrol does not release its energy spontaneously. Whereas ATP splits rather than burns, there is also an energy barrier that must be crossed to trigger that splitting, known as hydrolysis.”
    Careful study of the myosin motor revealed the spark plug. Out of near-infinite combinations of orientations in the 600 atoms of myosin, one spot forms a precise fit in a certain pocket. This fit is able to lower the energy and split the ATP into ADP and phosphate: “the electrostatic charges on the protein atoms are positioned around the ATP in such a way that they modify the electron density of this molecule, making it easier for the ATP fuel to split,” they found. Because the action takes place in a trillionth of a second, advanced computing techniques applied to quantum mechanics were required to catch it. The universality of ATP hydrolysis in living organisms suggests that many other molecular machines use this “biological spark plug mechanism” in their operations.
    http://crev.info/2014/08/cells.....scinating/

  15. 15
    Dionisio says:

    News @ 11

    Here’s a link to the referred book:

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb.....Caps%2C240

    Year Edition
    2013 9th
    2008 8th
    2003 7th
    2098 6th

    Apparently at least one of the Canadian authors is Muslim. Perhaps both?

    Keith L. Moore
    T.V.N. Persaud

    This first paragraph of the introduction, which appeared in the 6th and 7th editions, was removed from the 8th edition and beyond.

    “Interest in human development before birth is widespread, largely because of curiosity about our beginnings and the desire to improve the quality of life. The intricate processes by which a baby develops from a single cell are miraculous, and few events are more exciting than a mother’s viewing of her embryo during an ultrasound examination. The adaptation of a newborn infant to its new environment is also exhilarating to witness.”

    · Series: Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology
    · Paperback: 544 pages
    · Publisher: Saunders; 7th edition (January 25, 2003)
    · Language: English
    · ISBN-10: 0721694128
    · ISBN-13: 978-0721694122
    · Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
    · Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds

    · Paperback: 536 pages
    · Publisher: Saunders; 8th edition (September 19, 2007)
    · Language: English
    · ISBN-10: 1416037063
    · ISBN-13: 978-1416037064
    · Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 8.5 x 10.8 inches
    · Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds

    · Paperback: 560 pages
    · Publisher: Saunders; 9th edition (December 19, 2011)
    · Language: English
    · ISBN-10: 1437720021
    · ISBN-13: 978-1437720020
    · Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.4 x 0.9 inches
    · Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds

    I have the 6th edition on my bookshelf.

  16. 16
    Querius says:

    Bornagain77,

    One boulder sitting in the middle of a meadow raises no particular interest. Two boulders stacked on top of one another can still be natural. Three or four boulders are controversial. 40 boulders stacked in a pattern with carved decorations are obviously the ruins of a man-made structure, but 400 million boulders combined into a complex working city are obviously natural again. :-/

    -Q

  17. 17
    TSErik says:

    The comments section on her post is so vainglorious and arrogant that their smug began to coalesce and ooze through my computer screen.I had to clean it off with pages of “The God Delusion”.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Acartia_bogart says:

    TSEric: “The comments section on her post is so vainglorious and arrogant that their smug began to coalesce and ooze through my computer screen.I had to clean it off with pages of “The God Delusion”.”

    Not unlike the comments section on UD. Let’s be honest. Comments on Dawkin’s sight are going to be mostly supportive of his views. And comments on UD are going to be largely supportive of intelligent design.

    I don’t comment on Dawkin’s sight because I find him uninteresting at best, offensive at worst. But don’t fool yourself. Many commenters at UD are just as arrogant and smug.

  20. 20
    Querius says:

    TSErik,

    LOL. Yeah I tried that too, but everything I did just got smeared. You know, ad hominems and the usual unsupported accusations.

    -Q

  21. 21
    Collin says:

    Actually we know it started out with much less entropy. One of the mysteries of the universe is why it started out so ordered.

  22. 22
    JGuy says:

    musing…I wonder. Is contriving & employing the term “appearance of design” a clever attempt to bypass Occams Rasor?

  23. 23
    Laszlo says:

    To Querius: Actually two boulders on top of each other in an open field would be extremely unlikely to be the result of a natural process. I have spent a lot of time rummaging through talus fields in the Columbia Gorge and it took four years before I encountered one small rock perfectly perched atop another. (A bunch of rocks in a pile didn’t count.) Seems like ti should be a common occurrence yet it is vanishingly rare.

  24. 24
    Querius says:

    Most interesting. I thought it might be an occasional event. Thanks for sharing that, Laszlo.

    -Q

  25. 25
    DavidD says:

    TSErik – “The comments section on her post is so vainglorious and arrogant that their smug began to coalesce and ooze through my computer screen.I had to clean it off with pages of “The God Delusion”.

    Yes, I noticed the stench of the comments section as well. Even Dicky-D piped in a rather hypocritical comment of his own. First he referenced another incident, noting a trend [we can only hope]

    Dicky-D
    “Steve Jones told me the same thing happens to him (not on the same scale) when he lectures to medical students at University College, London. Muslim students walk out as soon as he starts talking about evolution.”

    But then his hypocrisy oozed out all over the floor at the end with his “Open Mindedness” insistence, which BTW is not characteristic of even his own arrogant personality.

    Dicky-D
    “In his case, let me stress again, these are medical students, aspiring to become doctors in Britain. I don’t know about you, but one of the qualities I value in my doctor is open-mindedness.”

    These are some of the least open minded people on the planet. My way or the Motorway. These are the Tree Thinkers or Free Thought people. You are free to think openly or independently as long as it conforms to the Borg Collective. This is classic degenerate behavior which is generally characteristic of the “Septic Zone” or “After the Bath House Closes”

    His rant about Medical Students wanting to be doctors who are not open minded about evolution reminded me of his conversation and interview with Randolph Nesse & also an article with the same subject in New Scientist, where Nesse is a huge fan of inserting “Evolutionary Applications” into the Medical field. The Mr Nesse actually stated this:

    “Nesse says that progress is being hampered by the fact that many medics still think of the body as a machine designed by an engineer, when in fact it is a “bundle of compromises … designed to maximize reproduction, not health”

    I hope Dicky-D gets a doctor who views his body as a bundle of compromises, instead of one who views the human body as something designed by an engineer. I know which one I’d prefer. But then at the end of the science article in New Scientist, they sum up in the last paragraph under the final sub-heading what the true motive is all about. Power and control over others.

    “There is no question about the importance of applied evolution. The trouble is, if biologists themselves are only just waking up to how relevant and crucial evolution can be, what hope is there of educating the leaders and policy makers who need to understand and act upon this research? Not much, I fear.”

    .

  26. 26
    DavidD says:

    Sorry, here is the link to the article:

    http://www.newscientist.com/ar....._RW1vnXl8E

    .

  27. 27
    DavidD says:

    Here is a hilarious, yet putrid take on both these men’s thinking on Darwinism in Medical field. This Nesse uses the same flawed a creator wouldn’t have done it this way schtik

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcnCJqDa1us

  28. 28
    humbled says:

    DavidD, I may tolerate a persons particular view / belief but if it is nonsense it is nonsese. I can’t be open-minded about nonsense, after all, nonsense is exactly that, nonsense. Students are walking out because they can see through the Darwinian codswalop these fumblewits (stole from Dawkins) are trying to peddle.

  29. 29
    Dionisio says:

    “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when talked by world-famous scientists.” – John Lennox
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....49641.html

  30. 30
    Dionisio says:

    News @ 11

    Dionisio at 9, I won’t ask you who that guy was because I wouldn’t risk wrecking his career, and the people who removed the paragraph have a financial interest, so … But they have to cater to you know what.

    Apparently the authors of the referred textbook are publicly known for their theological beliefs. It’s not a secret that I revealed here. However, perhaps it was not known to all until after the 7th edition of the book was out. Once the censorship police learned about the authors’ theological beliefs, the offending paragraph got removed from the following editions. This is speculation, because I don’t know the real story behind this obvious censorship case.

  31. 31
    Dionisio says:

    News @ 11

    Dionisio at 9, I won’t ask you who that guy was because I wouldn’t risk wrecking his career, and the people who removed the paragraph have a financial interest, so … But they have to cater to you know what.

    My wife and I married in Moscow during the so called ‘cold war’ years. On some of the wedding pictures a bust of V. I. Lenin can be clearly seen behind us. There was no visible cross anywhere around. I was a strong atheist. I had to pass the official exam on scientific materialism and dialectic philosophy, along with Das Kapital and other major books of that time, before I could get my engineering diploma. But that didn’t bother me at all, because I liked it and was convinced that it was true.
    Maybe this is an alert to some vociferous atheists out there who might think that all Christians were raised in Christian environments, hence they have not been exposed to other kinds of information. In my case it was exactly the opposite. Back then I shared my strong belief in the universe without beginning that did not require a Creator. What a fool! Shame on me!

    Here’s part of the lyrics of the famous rock band Pink Floyd’s 1973 song “Time”

    ———————————————————-
    Ticking away the moments
    That make up a dull day
    Fritter and waste the hours
    In an off-hand way
    Kicking around on a piece of ground
    In your home town
    Waiting for someone or something
    To show you the way
    ———————————————————-

    That’s a reflection of the depressed and confused state of the human soul in its natural condition, lacking the saving faith in the eternal promise of our Maker. I’ve been there, done that. Pretty sad, isn’t it? 🙁

    But God pulled me out of that misery. I was blind, but now I see. Christ showed me the way.

    Amazing grace. 🙂

    Sing hallelujah and rejoice!

  32. 32
    CalvinsBulldog says:

    Quote from the full article:

    I staggered up the High Street confused and upset – both at what had happened and at what I had said, and not said. What should I have done? They are ignorant aren’t they? Isn’t that why they’ve come to this city of learning, even if not Oxford University itself – to learn? Was I a coward to apologise? Were my attempts to be reasonable the best way of engaging them or just plain cowardice? Should I have said that the Koran, like the Old Testament, is a foul book full of hatred and violence; that they hold the beliefs they do only because they were infected with this horrible religion when they were too young to object? That they could escape … ?

    Er, no. You weren’t there to teach anything meaningful about memes, but to use your platform as a soapbox to proselytise your atheistic faith by laughing at the beliefs of others without giving them an opportunity to intelligently respond.

    When they exercised their right to walk quietly out of the room without a fuss, you heckled them from the podium. You later languished into gloom because other people did not uncritically suck up your prejudices and “see through” religion as you believed they ought.

    And you call THEM ignorant? Why are atheists always such fools?

    (…At least, that’s what I would have liked to have said to Blackmore!)

  33. 33
    Dionisio says:

    CalvinsBulldog @ 32

    Why are atheists always such fools?

    Where does true wisdom come from?

    Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

    [James 3:13-18 (ESV)]

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    LoL! Evolutionary algorithms must produce design yet design is seen in living organisms yet evolution doesn’t start until AFTER living organisms have arrived.

    That said unguided/ blind watchmaker evolution is not analogous to an algorithm.

  35. 35
    Joe says:

    Dionisio channels Pink Floyd- Can I play too?

    “HEY, ATHEISTS, Leave those kids alone” 🙂

  36. 36
    Moose Dr says:

    “if you have information that is copied with variation and selection then you must get (as Dan Dennett p50 puts it) ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’.”

    This, I see, as the first tenet of neo-Darwinism. If this statement is true, then neo-Darwinism is very credible. If this statement is false, then neo-Darwinism is, well, wrong.

    As a software developer, I would love to see software that results from a world where this statement is true. We have information. Every time a piece of data is loaded off of a hard drive, and into active memory, we have duplication. All too often we have computers making copy errors — much more so 30 years ago than today. We even have selection, it is called “operators cursing computers”. Yet with these three principles plugged together, the only improvement we have seen is that the intelligent designers have worked really hard to reduce copy errors.

    What we have instead is numerous attempts by computer programmers to simulate duplication, variation, selection algorithms. When these algorithms haven’t failed (most times) they have produced very small marvels.

    If Dennett’s algorithm, “information copied with variation and selection = evolution” is ever validated, well, I will have to have a major rethink of my position on this topic.

  37. 37
    Collin says:

    I read the article and I was bemused to see her complaining that she was hurt by them calling her not open minded. She doesn’t seem to realize that she had just barely called THEM closed minded a moment before and that just before she did that she was mocking their most cherished beliefs. But she wants to be the victim.

  38. 38
    Yarrgonaut says:

    “Yes, it works… to change the size of finch beaks by a few percent back-and-forth.”

    But does it really do that, or have we just assumed it does that?

    Is it natural selection selecting for traits by death and reproduction, or is it epigenetic changes and epigenetic inheritance?

    “These differences in bill shapes are not due to their differential usage or other external factors; rather, the differences are genetically and developmentally regulated and can be observed and studied during embryogenesis. Therefore, Darwin’s finches are becoming a very useful non-model animal and avian system in which to investigate the molecular basis of morphological changes during evolution.”

    http://www.researchgate.net/pu....._evolution

  39. 39
    anthropic says:

    DavidD 25

    Yes, I’ve noticed how open-minded and tolerant the materialists tend to be…

    See from 0.49 to 1:20 on
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dqh2OfsIHQ&feature=player_detailpage#t=49

  40. 40
    Dionisio says:

    Yarrgonaut @ 38

    Is it natural selection selecting for traits by death and reproduction, or is it epigenetic changes and epigenetic inheritance?

    “These differences in bill shapes are not due to their differential usage or other external factors; rather, the differences are genetically and developmentally regulated and can be observed and studied during embryogenesis. Therefore, Darwin’s finches are becoming a very useful non-model animal and avian system in which to investigate the molecular basis of morphological changes during evolution.”

    Can somene explain how we got those genetic and developmental regulation mechanisms that produce the morphological changes? How did those mechanisms start and evolve?

  41. 41
    Moose Dr says:

    In extension to my comment #36, it appears that Dennett did not directly suggest that information + duplication + variation + selection = ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’. He only provided the expression: ‘Design out of chaos without the aid of mind’. That said, the former algorithm is fundamentally implied by the theory. It is clear that the simple application of the formula is incorrect. The question is whether there is any circumstance where the formula in any realistic way works. The problem with such a statement is that there are likely to always be those who say that if they twiddle the parameters a little bit, it’ll start working. So far, um, nope.

  42. 42
    Querius says:

    Dionisio,

    Thanks for sharing a little about your journey from smug atheism to a humble trust in Jesus, and the joy you’ve experienced. What a delight, brother!

    -Q

  43. 43
    PaV says:

    I looked at the article. It sure appears that the reason the people walked out was because they felt it insulted the religion of Islam.

    The “walking out,” e.g., began right after she talked about religions having a particular view and then showing Muslims at prayer. I’m sure it was a slide showing rows upon rows of Muslims on their prayer rugs and bowing toward Mecca.

    Christian students are, I would suspect, not so easily offended.

    This is about Muslims, not about evolution.

  44. 44
    Collin says:

    By the way, a powerful response to Blackmore’s kind of thinking can be found here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxFmkg5dcyk&list=UUw-kYN6wWXWDyp_lB0wnlxw

    Fans of CS Lewis will enjoy this youtube channel.

  45. 45
    Eric Anderson says:

    “It is this inevitability that I find so delightful – the evolutionary algorithm just must produce design, and once you understand that you have no need to believe or not believe in evolution. You see how it works. So I persevered.”

    This is one of the most clueless statements every made. Shame on her. Unfortunately she is not alone. I’ve seen many died-in-the-wool materialists make this absurd claim. Embarrassing. I’m not sure I could have standed to sit through her lecture either, religion aside. The level of confusion and bluster and cluelessness about the “inevitability” of design emerging from chaos is breathtaking.

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