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We need to fire the facts and get different facts? Or …

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Further to a Third Way of evolution: Has anyone ever noticed, how often Darwin’s defense amounts to no more than, “Well, heh, heh, people have raised this point in the past, and it is valid, but we have Chairs and court judgements to discredit them and damage their career. And a whole catwalk of “aren’t I good?” girls to decorate! the scene”

What if nature isn’t impressed? So something wrong with the facts?

We do need to get this right.

This is all by way of introducing something a friend, Tom Bethell, wrote, to say:

Between 1978 and 1981, Nature published a remarkable series of letters about Cladistics and the reliability of evolutionary claims. A dispute arose between Beverly Halstead of Reading University and Colin Patterson of the Natural History Museum in London. Basically Patterson said that the pattern of events in the past should take precedence over any consideration of the process that created them. More and more people joined in, including Donn Rosen, Norman Platnick and Gary Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History in NY.

Henry Gee gives the exact citations to these letters in his book In Search of Deep Time (1999), p 243. He also says that “whenever the correspondence
looked like it was flagging, Nature’s lead writers kept the pot boiling with a few playful thunderbolts of their own.” [p 151] It is inconceivable that Nature would publish any such exchange today, as Gee (today a senior editor of Nature) surely knows. Patterson and his allies treated Darwinian evolution as something that could be questioned. “They could do perfectly
well without it,” he told me, in one of my interviews with him.

Except for the political issues. Like OFSTED, the UK education czar?

It seems to me that this lengthy Nature exchange should be preserved intact. Gee quotes some of the letters and I mentioned some in an article I wrote in 1985. Does anyone know if any attempt was made to assemble the entire Nature exchange? It has arguments on both sides and might make for a good monograph. … Compiling the 30 or so Nature, pages that Gee cites would be quite a slog.

Wow. Imagine what would happen if events took precedence over theories about what created them?

And what, in the meantime, if court judgements have been created that privilege theories over facts? Increasingly, this will be the pattern, loudly supported by funded chairs.

The story is circuitously mentioned in Patterson’s obituary

For more examples of this, see also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology). The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (origin of life) The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

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6 Replies to “We need to fire the facts and get different facts? Or …

  1. 1
    Henry Crun says:

    What facts do you think have been discarded in favour of theories?

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    The theory that ID critics are open-minded skeptics.

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    When was that ever a theory let alone a fact? 🙂

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    Science faculties will/have become courts of naked emperors and their minions.

  5. 5
    Axel says:

    Henry, try quantum physics and the implications of the non-locality it identifies, as the base-line of physical reality.

    And all of Niels Bohr’s strictures concerning recognising such primordial physical truths as only images, figments:

    ‘There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature…describe what we are able to observe.

    Then there is the absurd refusal of scientism’s finest to face up to this truth, so often belaboured by Bohr:

    ‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.’

    ‘Two sorts of truth: profound truths ?recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth,? in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.’

    ‘It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth.’

    Howmsomever, the notion that there could actually be some kind of asset beyond the purchasing power of the fabled ‘promissory note’ is, of course, anathema to ‘self-styled rationalists’ (who however have no problem conjecturing no thing turning itself into everything. Somehow, I think Bohr would have defined that as a plain, old oxymoron which was possibly the ultimate nonsense of which man could be capable).

    As if to memorialize their imbecility for future generations, they turn to the term ‘counter-intuitive’, in place of ‘counter-rational’.

    Of course, there are many things that are counter-intuitive, but the most striking feature of a paradox is that it is so obviously impossible, so plainly ABSOLUTELY repugnant to reason, trying to understand it would ‘do your head in’, had it not already been addled. Bohr favoured the descriptions, ‘absurd’ and ‘crazy’ to characterise paradoxes, for obvious reasons.

    While the only possibility of a person being forced to rely on their intuition, in order to grasp that a particular paradox is, on the face of it, utterly nonsensical (such as a category error) would surely be if a person were very severely mentally retarded.

    ‘Call me foolish, if you wish, but I have this nagging hunch that something cannot rationally be at the same time a particle and a wave. It is repugnant to logic. And we are nothing, if not rationalists. Er..let me rephrase that…’

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    Patterson and his allies treated Darwinian evolution as something that could be questioned. “They could do perfectly
    well without it,” he told me, in one of my interviews with him.

    Indeed he did,,

    November 1981 Presentation at the American Museum of Natural History By Colin Patterson – Audio CD and Annotated Transcript
    Excerpt: Here are a few of Patterson’s famous comments that you can now listen to and read in their full context:

    “But it’s true that for the last eighteen months or so, I’ve been kicking around non-evolutionary or even anti-evolutionary ideas.”

    “Now, one of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, well, let’s call it non-evolutionary, was last year I had a sudden realization. For over twenty years I had thought that I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up, and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years, and there was not one thing I knew about it. That was quite a shock, to learn that one can be so misled for so long.”

    “So either there is something wrong with me, or there was something wrong with evolutionary theory. Naturally I know there’s nothing wrong with me. So for the last few weeks, I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. The question is this: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, any one thing that you think is true?”

    “Well, I’m not interested in the controversy over teaching in high school, and if any militant creationists have come here looking for political ammunition, I hope they’ll be disappointed.”

    “I shall take the text of my sermon from this book, Gillespie’s Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation….He takes it for granted that a rationalist view of nature has replaced an irrational one, and of course, I myself took that view, up until about eighteen months ago. And then I woke up and I realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolutionism as revealed truth in some way.”

    “Well, we’re back to the question I’ve been putting to people, ‘Is there one thing you can tell me about evolution?’ And the absence of an answer seems to suggest that it is true, evolution does not convey any knowledge, or if so, I haven’t yet heard it.”

    “Now I think many people in this room would acknowledge that during the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you’ve experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that’s true of me, and I think it’s true of a good many of you in here.”

    “So that’s my first theme. That evolution and creationism seem to be showing remarkable parallels. They are increasingly hard to tell apart. And the second theme is that evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge, apparent knowledge which is actually harmful to systematics.”

    http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/audios/c010.htm

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