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Jonathan Wells responds to P. Z. Myer’s tantrum

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Jonathan wells asked me to post the following at UD:

Hated by the Right People

On April 2, Bill posted a comment by me [1] about a recent press release from the University of Bath. In my comment I made two basic points.

First, evolutionary developmental biology (“evo-devo”) – which is currently all the rage among Darwinists – 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 – namely, the origin of major innovations such as new organs and body plans – evo-devo has not provided an experimentally confirmed explanation of even one such innovation.

Second, one of evo-devo’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 they’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 “derived” rather than ancestral.

Funny, I didn’t read about this discovery in the Science Section of The New York Times. Did you?

Since I couldn’t cite The New York Times, which always tells the truth, I cited (without further comment) a 2006 paper in Trends in Genetics. [2]

The next day, University of Minnesota biology professor Paul Z. Myers criticized me on his blog, “Pharyngula: Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal.” [3] Myers acknowledged that “it is true that there are significant rearrangements in the Hox genes,” but he took me to task for neglecting to point out that “the evidence in the paper shows a pattern of inheritance of structure and variations from structure in the Hox genes… The paper is trying to explain the mechanism behind this slow pattern of changes in the Drosophila lineage, and it makes a good argument.”

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 didn’t mention this; if I had, I would have explained why I think the paper’s attempt to protect Darwinian orthodoxy fails. No matter. Myers ignored the point I made and criticized one I didn’t make.

In case you think this is just a dry scientific dispute, Myers also wrote: “Wells is… [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.”

Actually, as far as I know, Myers and I have never met – but why let an inconvenient fact stand in the way of verbal abuse? In any case, those commenting on Myers’s blog were not as restrained as he was. Here’s a sampling of what they wrote:

“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?”

“In the case of Wells, incompetence will no longer suffice as an explanation – 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.”

“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 crap… 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.”

So much for civilized discourse. Darwinists have replaced it with character assassination.

Oh, well. As Johnny Cash reputedly once said, “It’s good to know who hates you, and it’s good to be hated by the right people.”



[1] www.uncommondescent.com…

[2] Negre, B. and A. Ruiz. 2007. “HOM-C evolution in Drosophila: is there a need for Hox gene clustering?” Trends in Genetics 23(2): 55-59.

[3] scienceblogs.com/pharyngula…

allswell Please, when you address us with an ad hominem, take the opportunity to also be correct. Call us “neo-Dawrinian synthesists”. Who's Dawrin? DaveScot
I think it's significant that the only other fields where this type of vituperative ad-hominem attacks regularly occur are politics and religion. In Medicine and other true scientific arenas debate often becomes hot, but almost always stays on-topic; people's ideas may be attacked, but you do not find personal ridicule, name-calling, and accusations of dishonesty. On the other hand, it's rare these days to find a discussion involving disagreement about life's origin and development which does not quickly degenerate into the type of truly immature behavior regularly demonstrated by prof. Myers and other proponents of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. How is one to have any respect for these people, or for their position? This is just not how real scientists act about real scientific issues. It is becoming ever more apparent that the Darwinian position has more to do with politics and religion than with science. dacook
PZ Meyers responded and, according to the sheep at denialism.com, his response is devastating. I guess Jon Wells will just go home and sulk now. NOT!!! ;-) The Scubaredneck
Dr Wells is hated by the Darwiniah church bkz he blew the whistle on the so called "overwhelming evidence for evolution" with his book "Icons of Evolution". That's something Darwin worshippers will never forgive him. Oh, and the fact that Dr Wells has a PhD in a relevant field (concerning origins) doesn't make him more popular. The worst thing Darwinian totalists hate is a learned anti-Darwinist! I mean, you can dismiss that common people with hand waving and "oh, they just don't know anything about science". But how can you dismiss a man with not one by TWO PhD, one of them in a biology related field? So, since you cant win with evidence, you just attack his personality, his degrees, and pretty much talk about anything EXCEPT unguided evolution. Mats
[...] Hated by the Right People, Jonathan Wells replies to Myers. [...] Darwiniana » Wells/Myers: evo-devo
PZ and his herd of independent thinkers are shooting themselves in their collective feet. This ignorant bashing sounds more like the staged ranting of a professional wrestler than a reasoned argument from a position of strength. If I were an unbiased observer I know which side I would choose based solely on the rationality of the "arguments" presented. sagebrush gardener
Please, when you address us with an ad hominem, take the opportunity to also be correct. Call us "neo-Dawrinian synthesists". allswell
Dr. Wells is really hated among darwinists, and there is a reason for that ;) IDist
If Dr. Wells, and IDists in general, are soooo ignorant, then why don't they just take the time to splain it to us? The imaginative explanatory narratives they offer us now are not a substitute for scientific data. But first it would be nice for them to admit that their materialistic anti-ID position is nothing more than sheer dumb luck. The diversity of living organisms is due to culled genetic accidents, even though we know that although genes may influence every aspect of development they do not determine it. Substitute a fly's PAX6 gene with that from a mouse and we get a fly with fly-eyes. IOW no one knows where the information for the type of eye resides. The color of eyes in humans, perhaps, but not the info for "human eye". PZ and crew should not blame us for being ignorant when it is obvious they are more so. And if they are just looking to provoke a fight then why don't we just have at it? Joseph
I've yet to see a darwinian blog that doesn't descend into madness when faced with “inconvenient” facts about their beloved faith. They’re hastening the demise of Darwinism with their fearful outbursts. shaner74
The emotional quasi religious response darwinian totalists give to the scientific attacks on their religious myth hasn't been neglected by the people. One enters this debate hoping to find civil and rational debate about two opposing scientific view points, but what we get is one side doing science, and the other side doing character assassination. This goes in line with what Phil Johnson has said: if you don't have the evidence on your side, you want to talk about anything EXCEPT the issue at hand. In a way, the darwinian response to scientific criticism is revealing of a hidden fear. One does not act this emotional when the evidence is on your side. Mats
The sheep at www.denialism.com obediently genuflect to PiZza The Scubaredneck
R u Kidding me?! The D. melanogaster's HOX gene order is derived even under evolutionary terms... You better believe you won't read that in the NYT. I will def. add this to my little bag o' facts. jpark320

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