Jonathan Wells responds to P. Z. Myer’s tantrum
|April 5, 2007||Posted by William Dembski under Evolution, Intelligent Design|
Jonathan wells asked me to post the following at UD:
Hated by the Right People
On April 2, Bill posted a comment by me  about a recent press release from the University of Bath. In my comment I made two basic points.
First, evolutionary developmental biology (Ã¢â‚¬Å“evo-devoÃ¢â‚¬Â) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is currently all the rage among Darwinists Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has not lived up to its promise. Despite claims by some of its practitioners to have plugged the last remaining major gap in evolutionary theory Ã¢â‚¬â€œ namely, the origin of major innovations such as new organs and body plans Ã¢â‚¬â€œ evo-devo has not provided an experimentally confirmed explanation of even one such innovation.
Second, one of evo-devoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most widely advertised claims has turned out to be false. Hox genes, which are important in embryo development, are lined up on the chromosome in the same order in which theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re expressed along the body axis, and the order is the same in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as it is in vertebrates. For years, Darwinists have been claiming that this similarity in Hox gene order provides powerful evidence for the common ancestry of insects and vertebrates. But biologists have now discovered that the order of Hox genes in other species of Drosophila is different; apparently, the order in Drosophila melanogaster is a relatively recent acquisition. In the jargon of evolutionary biology, it is Ã¢â‚¬Å“derivedÃ¢â‚¬Â rather than ancestral.
Funny, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read about this discovery in the Science Section of The New York Times. Did you?
Since I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cite The New York Times, which always tells the truth, I cited (without further comment) a 2006 paper in Trends in Genetics. 
The next day, University of Minnesota biology professor Paul Z. Myers criticized me on his blog, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pharyngula: Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal.Ã¢â‚¬Â  Myers acknowledged that Ã¢â‚¬Å“it is true that there are significant rearrangements in the Hox genes,Ã¢â‚¬Â but he took me to task for neglecting to point out that Ã¢â‚¬Å“the evidence in the paper shows a pattern of inheritance of structure and variations from structure in the Hox genesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ The paper is trying to explain the mechanism behind this slow pattern of changes in the Drosophila lineage, and it makes a good argument.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Actually, the 2006 paper I cited includes the data to prove my point that Hox gene order in Drosophila melanogaster is derived rather than ancestral, but the paper also bravely tries to interpret the data in a Darwinian context. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mention this; if I had, I would have explained why I think the paperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attempt to protect Darwinian orthodoxy fails. No matter. Myers ignored the point I made and criticized one I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make.
In case you think this is just a dry scientific dispute, Myers also wrote: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wells isÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ [an] unctuous rodent who earns the contempt of every man who meets him. That imagination will have to hold you, because I’m going to restrain myself a bit; I’m afraid Wells would earn every earthy sobriquet I could imagine, but I’ll confine myself to the facts. They’re enough. The man completely misrepresents the results of a paper and a whole discipline, and does it baldly on the web, as if he doesn’t care that his dishonesty and ignorance leave a greasy, reeking trail behind him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Actually, as far as I know, Myers and I have never met Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but why let an inconvenient fact stand in the way of verbal abuse? In any case, those commenting on MyersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blog were not as restrained as he was. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a sampling of what they wrote:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Did you ever get the idea that the actual reason why Dr. Wells got his doctorate was because someone secretly bribed the university an obscene amount of money so that they could pretend that he passed his coursework?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In the case of Wells, incompetence will no longer suffice as an explanation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even a fool is correct by accident on occasion. Wells is lying, plain and simple, every time he writes two words in a row. My hat is off to anyone who can read through a full sentence of his without screaming and crying.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It’s nice to see how many others on this thread have concluded that this particular creationist is not just a religious ideologue, but a lying sack of crapÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Someone needs to do the detective work where UC Berkeley and Wells’ doctorate are concerned. If we connect the dots it seems likely that Phillip Johnson and the DI had a lot to do with shepherding Wells’ doctoral program.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So much for civilized discourse. Darwinists have replaced it with character assassination.
Oh, well. As Johnny Cash reputedly once said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good to know who hates you, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good to be hated by the right people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
 Negre, B. and A. Ruiz. 2007. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HOM-C evolution in Drosophila: is there a need for Hox gene clustering?Ã¢â‚¬Â Trends in Genetics 23(2): 55-59.