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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