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Royal Society meeting: The worms aren’t coming back to the can


Recently, one of our star commenters, Sandwalk’s Larry Moran, mooted that the Royal Society meeting on assessing where we are with evolution maybe should be cancelled. Then he said he doesn’t want it to be cancelled but “they may cancel the meeting because the IDiots and the kooks are gloating about destroying evolution.”

We hadn’t heard much from people who are gloating about destroying evolution but we’ve heard plenty from people who can do without the Darwin lobby running the field into the ground.

Some of the episodes we’ve noted are pretty crazy. The University of Kentucky had to settle with astronomer Martin Gaskell for $125,000 because one of his colleagues was obsessing with a Darwin-in-the-schools lobbyist about his possible support for ID, as a result of which he did not get a position for which he was well-qualified.

The Texas Darwin-in-the-schools lobby doesn’t want students to know about self-organization theory as it’s maybe an ID plot (no) and was trashing Texas science standards that the Fordham Institute says are mostly okay.

David Klinghoffer summarizes the current scene at Evolution News and Views:

Writing at the Huffington Post, Suzan Mazur gives the remarkable text of the email she received from an (unnamed) Royal Society meeting organizer, objecting to her candid reporting. It begins:

Could I request that you stop referring to the forthcoming RS-BA meeting (“New Trends in Evolutionary Biology: Biological, Philosphical and Social Science Perspectives”), and to the extended evolutionary synthesis, more generally, as in some way advocating a “paradigm shift”. Such language is both misleading (the vast majority of scientists working towards an extended synthesis do not seek revolutionary change in neo-Darwinism) and counterproductive (such talk undermines calm scientific discussion by creating an unnecessarily emotive and antagonistic atmosphere).

That is some gall. He is trying to direct a journalist in how, or whether, she informs the public that a major revision in evolutionary theory may be in the offing.

Larry Moran isn’t trying to quiet Suzan Mazur, and I don’t read his post at Sandwalk as a call to scuttle or censor the meeting. He is, I think, simply recognizing that a significant body of opinion among his colleagues would breathe a sigh of relief at such a move. They would welcome trying to put the worms back in their can. More.

Hard to put the worms back in their can when they are tunnelling their way through hectares of fields. But no, never a shortage of gall. Did I mention Martin Gaskell?

If the Royal Society had to cancel the meeting for fear of crossing the lobby or their ilk, one wonders what the lobby’s next demands would be.

Funny, two posts that whistled through here at Uncommon Descent this morning illustrate why the meeting could only be of use:

Convergence: Venom in fish evolved 18 times The fact that these “super complicated” systems evolved eighteen different times pretty much rules out a Darwinian origin (natural selection acting on random mutation). So then how did it happen?


Forests challenge ecosystem claims Distinguishing between “high rollers” and “prudent savers” was pop Darwinism at its level best. It was based on pop psychology in humans – but even humans are not that simple.

See also: What the fossils told us in their own words

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It seems to me that the Royal Society Meet organizers have given too much ammunition to the ID/Creationist groups. I have a feeling that this is what Larry Moran was warning them about when he refereed to the "...opening of the can of worms..." I think Larry is worried that the "paradigm shift" is too aggressive and impossible to rely on randomness and accidents and therefore leaning too much toward an Intelligent Intervention. J-Mac
Here's another example of wrong hypotheses being corrected: See post @1700: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/mystery-at-the-heart-of-life/#comment-612933 Dionisio
Specially considering that sometimes what they call ‘evolution’ or ‘reducible complex’ is just a bunch of built-in adaptation mechanisms in action. For example, see post @1692 here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/mystery-at-the-heart-of-life/#comment-612824
Let's call things by their names. As we say in Spanish: "Al pan pan y al vino vino." Dionisio
They are merely discussing different ways that evolution can take place beyond [...] Darwin’s originals; hardly a ‘paradigm shift’.
Maybe it's just an 'extension', though endless. :) As more discoveries are reported by the serious wet/dry lab researchers, shedding more light on the elaborate molecular and cellular choreographies orchestrated within the biological systems, this kind of 'extensions' might be required over and over again, endlessly. Hence, if a theory (or however they may call it) that has been massively sold out for over a century as a 'this is it'/'done deal'/'engraved on rock'/"don't touch it"/"just swallow it" kind of stuff, now requires an unforeseeable number of periodic 'extensions', isn't that a paradigm shift in some way? It's like a solidly established 'miracle' medicine that 'allegedly' cures all maladies, suddenly requiring additional ingredients and/or complementary medicines in order to work. Isn't that a paradigm shift? Original paradigm: this is all you need. New paradigm: no, this is not all. You may need other stuff too. Imagine the 1967 Beatles song: "All you need is love, love is all you need." that later gets extended to say: "All you need is love (+ an income)" Sometime later it gets extended again: "All you need is love (+ an income + a house)" And much later another extension: "All you need is love (+ an income + a house + a car)" And so on. So the question is: wasn't love all we needed? What happened? Well, simply a paradigm shift. How else can one call it? Specially considering that sometimes what they call 'evolution' or 'reducible complex' is just a bunch of built-in adaptation mechanisms in action. For example, see post @1692 here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/mystery-at-the-heart-of-life/#comment-612824 :) Dionisio
A scientist calls a journalist and says, 'don't write your inaccurate story about this meeting.' The journalist rightly, blows a rasberry. So what? I do however agree with the scientist, 'pardigm shift', is pretty emotive, and completely inaccurate. They are merely discussing different ways that evolution can take place beyond RM and NS, and Sexual Selection, and the relative importance of these knew mechanisms versus Darwin's originals; hardly a 'paradigm shift'. rvb8
It's a good thing we don't need to make it up. Some people would accuse us of salting the mine. News
per Willow Stone: What's causing all the bad science lately? Well, scientists don't like the idea that their personal weakness are the cause, so they blame evolution. It must be natural selection. You think I'm kidding? Read the article. It's hilarious. "Smaldino and McElreath...suggest that their model shows that bad science can be explained as a result of the evolutionary selective pressures that are acting on scientists." A question arises: How do Smaldino and McElreath know whether or not their model is also bad science? That their findings are not also a faulty product of evolutionary forces? Evolutionary forces are causing a boom in bad science – 8 July 2016 https://www.newscientist.com/article/2096542-evolutionary-forces-are-causing-a-boom-in-bad-science/
So not only is Darwinian evolution bad science in the first place, it is the cause of why science is experiencing a boom in bad science? You just can't make this stuff up! :) bornagain77

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