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Royal Society accused of breach of public trust re evolution conference

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For failing to make public comments on the recent meeting on rethinking evolution available. From James McAllister at Environmental Evolution:

Dear members of the Scientific Programmes team,

As one of the participating audience members in the recent Royal Society meeting, New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives, I am greatly disappointed to find that the audio recordings made available of the meeting on your site omit the questions and comments from the audience and the responses of the presenters. While the presentations and round tables present good and valuable information, I found that the audience participation segments invaluable in understanding how various persons can approach the data from very different perspectives. I believe that these omitted segments reveal something crucially important for multi-disciplinary meeting: an inability to hear and appreciate the context in which data is analyzed outside one’s own discipline.

Whether it was an official objective of the Royal Society to have the meeting consider the controversy surrounding the continued application of the names, Modern Synthesis or neo-Darwinism, to describe the current state of knowledge and research in the variety of fields that are now advancing evolutionary studies, the meeting (in particular the audience participation) certainly did address what was the elephant in the room. These segments have also been the subject of much of the reporting of what went on at the meeting, much of which has been badly misrepresented as in the reporting of an exchange between Professor Dennis Noble and David Shuker in Quanta magazine.

I will be reporting on the meeting to the readers of the Environmental Evolution newsletter in our January 2017 issue and I find myself without recordings to verify what actually happened. I did not make notes because I had been assured by the Royal Society that the meeting would be recorded, that those recordings would be made available and no mention was made that the audience participation would be excluded. In what is being called a “post-fact” world, I think that access to documentation is a necessity. I also want to understand what the Royal Society has done and why without speculation. I hope you will respond to the following questions.

Could you tell me if the audience participation segments were recorded? If not, what was the reasoning for not doing so?

If the Royal Society recorded the audience participation, what was the reasoning behind omitting them from the mp3 files made available? When was that that decision to omit these segments made? Before, during or after the meeting?

If audience participation segments were recorded, is there a way that those recordings can be accessed by reporters for the purpose of verification of what occurred?

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for any answers you can supply.

James MacAllister MS, FLS

and from

Royal Society Suzan Mazur, author of Public Evolution Summit

Dear Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan:

Greetings. The Royal Society Scientific Programmes office advised prior to the November 7-9 meeting there on “new trends” in evolution that the recorded audio of the public’s “participation” in that meeting — which was one-third of the proceedings — would be posted on the conference web page following the event along with audio of the formal presentations. As it turned out, the public’s participation was the most robust part of the meeting, with many of the attendee-participants more distinguished than many of the formal presenters. However, the Scientific Programmes office has now breached public trust by not posting the “participant” Q&As. Further, the Scientific Programmes office now denies it ever said it would post the public part of the audio.

Hundreds of people likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend and “participate” in the discussion. Again, many attendee-participants were more distinguished than many of the actual speakers. However, what we’re left with as record is a series of mostly standard lectures and old science.

I have reported this matter on Huffington Post, which has now generated a flurry of other commentaries and comments.

Following up with another inquiry to the Scientific Programmes office, James MacAllister, a former associate of Lynn Margulis, wrote the letter below. The Scientific Programmes office has not responded to James MacAllister’s inquiry.

Please advise what is being done by your office to correct this serious breach of public trust.

Best Regards,
Suzan Mazur

Comment from O’Leary for News: Is Darwinism a new form of paralysis? Has it entered the medical literature yet? Given that virtually all attendees have reputations to protect, why would anyone be afraid to just post their comments?

Look, what’s the problem? It’s not a barroom brawl, okay? Nobody’s facing charges.

Alternatively, brown bag, anybody?

See also: Royal Society reneges on promise to post public comments

Royal Society Meet: No “fisticuffs”; serious questions smothered instead

and

What the fossils told us in their own words

One Reply to “Royal Society accused of breach of public trust re evolution conference

  1. 1
    J-Mac says:

    The way I see it it’s a public humiliation and a great waste of taxpayers funds, nothing else.

    RS has claimed that there are new trends in evolution or as many of them put it; the trends were supposed to lead to the “Third Way” of explaining the complexity of life on earth other than creation or neo-darwinism. (I’m not even going to mention what would happen if RS meet had at least one piece of their agenda of the origins of life, because I would have any more terms to describe this beyond what I did at the outset of this comment.)

    So…where are we?

    Considering the fact that many attendees who are opposed to the new trends in evolution and the third way are not reporting on the meet, it must have been a big failure for both sides a and not just RS.
    Larry Moran–usually very vocal about any opposition to his way of evolution, which apparently is not Darwinian, as he himself claims, has been pretty quiet abbot his experience at the meet…

    Let’s face the facts. Atheism driven evolution either by Darwinian natural selection, neo-darwinian, beyond darwinian and now the “third way” guys, have not been able to identify one or more mechanism that led to the complexity of life on earth. Identifying them and agreeing of them is a different story.

    How abot providing experimental evidence for their claims? The meet never got that far…

    The summary.
    Most attendees liked some features of the meet, but non of them have come up with any solid scientific evidence worth publishing. And this is the greatest failure of the meet. Nobody wants to publish or be quoted anywhere with the exception of someone call either Jablonka or Grishka, who wanted to be on record that no matter what the outcome of the meet is, they (the Darwinian gods) will not include God in any of their final conclusions…

    Maybe these guys should start doing some real work, like scientific experiments?

    The problem is that Royal Society didn’t invite the right speakers with the experimental, scientific evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt what is driving evolution.

    The list of scientists who make their claims on the mechanism of evolution by their own experimental evidence includes: Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, PZ. Myers, Joseph Felsenstein, Nick Mitzke, Ryan Gregory, Larry Moran, Jeffrey Shallit who figured out the evolution by his computer skills and the list goes on…

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