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Ernst Mayr at the millennium: A study in misplaced triumphalism

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Darwinian evolutionist Ernst Mayr wrote in Scientific American in 2000:

“Let me now try to summarize my major findings. No educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we now know to be a simple fact. Likewise, most of Darwin’s particular theses have been fully confirmed, such as that of common descent, the gradualism of evolution, and his explanatory theory of natural selection.”

(Mayr E.W., “Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought,” Scientific American, Vol. 283, No. 1, pp.67-71, July 2000, p.71)

Note how Mayr has smeared the “so-called theory of evolution” (why “so-called”?) together with the facts of the history of life. He makes clear that he does indeed think that the theory can be identical with the history it interprets and that Darwin’s is the only conceivable interpretation.

This bunkum entanglement first attracted my attention as a journalist years ago. When I first caught sight of the hordes of  churchgoing scientists who rushed to defend it, I knew I was onto something.

The best way to unpack bunkum entanglement is to recognize it for what it is: a creed constructed so as to prevent legitimate evidence-based doubt.

After all, if theory and fact are identical, there is no basis for evidence-based doubt.

In any event, by now, 600 scientists do in fact question Darwin’s “particular theses,” on the evidence. I am sure many more would if Richard Sternberg and Guillermo Gonzalez had not demonstrated, by example, what happens to dissenters.

But my instinct is that it isn’t working for the Darwinists any more. Listen to the caterwauling about Visigoths at the gates. Note the ridiculous-beyond-parody hagiography of Darwin, an upper-class Brit toff who lent respectability to the theory that ruthless competition was the key to all life.

And just yesterday, I noted that John Rennie, editor-in-chief of Scientific American, has been blogging up a storm against a young lawyer, Casey Luskin, who works for the Discovery Institute, in re the current Kansas science standards uproar.

I would have thought that a man in Rennie’s position  would find himself too beset by the demands of his publication to get into a row with …. But I guess not …. ? … ?

Look, it isn’t the Visigoths that are at these people’s gates. It’s all the people who know things that Darwinism doesn’t account for. Things that would cause a reasonable person to doubt Darwinism.

The most common argument I hear for Darwinism – the absolutely darling must-have story in the pop sci media – is “We have found evidence for Darwinism!

We found it – in the eye of a fly – in the butt of an extinct anteater – in the lies guys tell about sex.” And we have more, too! Watch this space!”

The fatal problem, as any journalist knows, is: An apparently convincing case can be constructed if the only requirement is to assemble evidence for one’s own position. The case can then be aced by  bullying anyone who knows contrary evidence into silence.

The one thing the Darwinists can’t do is, in the words of the old song, “Make the world go awa-a-ay/Get it off of my shoulder.”

No it won’t go away. And it’s colder and colder. 

Hmmm... I see you beat me to it Cheers! MikeFNQ
Jerry The bit about Wells is perfectly on topic, seeing as the point I made earlier was that it is impossible to be knowledgable and rational and doubt that evolution has occurred. I was not critiquing Wells's book by pointing out his Creationist stance but illustrating my argument. Stalin was not a big fan of Darwin, otherwise Lysenkoism would not have got up. Nazism was not atheistic, it was theistic. Stalism was Stalinistic, and his spiel against religion probably had something to do with the abuse he received at the hands of the priests at his school. The family Hominidae includes humans, chimps and gorillas. Excellent, by your argument this is "microevolution". NeoDarwinism is not "interested in small changes", it is interested in all changes. You just disagree with it. Darwinism is not embarassed by the Cambrian Explosion. It's a wonderful subject that Darwinists love learning more about. It is not in any way embarassing, you just think it is. Only one transitional? Heck, Acanthostega, Tiktaliik, Archaeopteryx, Ambulocetus, Pakicetus, Rhodocetus, Himalayacetus, Basilosaurus, Homo Erectus, Homo Ergaster, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on, no matter how much you wave your hands at it. Your argument isn't subsuming Darwinism. It's redrawing a line whenever Darwinism advances. They once said that there was no natural selection. They once said itt was restricted to within the species. Then they said that speciation was microevolution. New genera - Microevolution they cried. You're saying family is microevolution. When will you take your next step back? The textbooks are a little out of date... They generally don't say how far naturalistic methodology has got us. Let's end this thread and take this up elsewhere. :) MikeFNQ
MikeFNQ, I don't care if Wells is a moonbat, Moonie, Creationist or screwball or a Martian in disguise. Is what he has written wrong? Suppose the same material had come out of an unknown professor or another prominent biologist. Is anything wrong with it? Deal with his arguments not his personal life. Don't you see that by only pointing to his religious connections you are really making his case. If you could disparage his ideas that is the first place you would have gone. Anti-Semitism has many roots and we are witnessing it practiced in the world at this very moment. But am I wrong in that Nazism was atheistic; was not communism atheistic. Both used many of Darwin's ideas to implement their policies especially the Nazis. Lysenkoism was indeed a strange concoction but Marx was a big admirer of Darwin. So apparently were Stalin and Mao. Would these movements have existed without their atheistic roots? Maybe, but I doubt it and I believe it was an essential part of each. So to say that Dawkins is non-violent is meaningless. He is promoting a philosophy that says life is an accident and has no value. You can make all the pious statements about how atheists have morals too but it only takes a few who see that the implications of Darwinism is that life is meaningless to realize that taking life is no big deal. By the way the major college biology text in the US has an ode to Dawkins in it and recommends all students read the Blind Watchmaker. You seem to be on some campaign about microevolution. I don't believe ID has much quarrel with any of the ideas in it. For example, the family Canidae includes common dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals, etc. So this taxonomy would include family, genus, and species. I doubt if anyone in the ID movement would be upset if someone came along and conclusively proved that they all evolved from one ancestor group. It is not a big deal. What the ID people say is that it is extremely unlikely that many novel life functions evolved. And they say it is pretty much impossible that the first cell happened by naturalistic causes. You see ID is primarily interested in the origin of complex novel life processes while neo Darwinism is interested in small trivial modifications. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. What ID says is that Darwinists extrapolate without any evidence to these complex novel processes. That is why the Cambrian Explosion is an embarrassment for Darwinists. There is no diversity predicted by Darwin, only disparity or very different organisms with little variation within each phylum. It is also why the fossil record in general is an embarrassment because there are no examples of transitions outside of a few controversial fossils. And I mean few, sometimes only one. In a way ID subsumes neo Darwinism, presuming it is an explanation for some limited life form changes and may in fact account for some more wide ranging phenomena but absolutely can not account for much of the complexity of life itself. You have to look for something beyond neo Darwinism for that. But that is not what is in the text books nor is it the picture that the Darwinists and popular press disseminate. Instead you get grandeur for Darwin and moonbats for ID. jerry
Jerry Wells does not believe the Cambrian Explosion happened. It is against the belief of his Church (the Moonies). He does not believe in Intelligent Design except in so far as it aids Creationism. The Nazis had a lot more to do with the antisemitism dating back through Martin Luther (who advocated throwing pig excrement at Jews) to the Gospel of John (the root of antisemitism) than they did with Darwin, though that says nothing about either. The Nazi leadership were despicable individuals who twisted things to suit their own agendas. It wasn't appeals to Darwin that Hitler used, it was appeals to the religious belief of the masses (Gott mit uns!). The Communist era wasn't Darwinist, it was Lysenkoist. There is also a good reason we refer to Stalinist and Maoist states. That is what they followed. I have read Dawkins (every book except the Ancestor's Tale, which is sitting next to my desk waiting to be read). Nowhere in Dawkins's books does he condone violence or amoral behaviour. He does see it as being atheistic which it, and all science, is. It is without gods. Epidemiology challenges God just as much as Darwinism does - no God inflicting diseases on people, just disease causing organisms making their living. Disease is just part of the natural order. It's methodologically naturalistic. I suppose the ID community will come gunning after it next. Xenophobia is not a virtue. MikeFNQ
MikeFNQ, I said Wells talks about the Cambrian Explosion, 3 billion year old fossils so how is anything he is proposing in his book or video that is contrary to your view of the evidence of the earth's history. I haven't seen it but you think you know better. Be specific. Read his books or look at his video which you can buy for $9 on google or the paperback for $12. He is out there ready to be whacked if he stirs off the reservation. Tell the people the Nazi's controlled, or that Stalin controlled or that Mao controlled if they would have like to live in another time. They were all driven by Darwin's ideas. You live in country that is a product of western civilization and owes most of its culture to Christianity. Wait a 100 years till the Christianity is completely eroded and see what is left. I have a good Australian friend who now lives here and doesn't think the country he loves will exist in 100 years. He says it will be a Muslim Asian country. Maybe you should read Richard Dawkins and his take on Darwinism before you make your assessment that Darwinism is no more atheistic than epidemiology. You are betraying yourself when you make such ludicrous statements. Where in epidemiology is there anything that challenges the concept of God. As I have said often here, those who support Darwinism eventually breakdown when they are pushed to defend it. You have been a good example. jerry
Jerry Bearing in mind this thread started with William Dembski berating Mayr's comment that "no educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we now know to be a simple fact", I think softening that to include the possibility of not being rational is not really an ad hominem attack (unless you take it overly literally). It is not an ad hominem attack to, correctly, identify Wells as a Creationist and hence deduce that he is either ignorant of the facts or he is not rational in his consideration of them. These facts are things that you and I would agree on. You were the one who recommended Wells - a Creationist who uses Intelligent Design for his own ends. As an article that William Dembski linked to said, a huge percentage (70%) of Protestants in the US do not believe that natural history, as science knows it, happened, No Cambrian Explosion, no Jurassic, no Devonian. Just life as we know it existing from the beginning. This should be alarming to you. This should have you screaming for it to be corrected. That large percentages of the ID fanbase are Creationists, most of whom are Young Earthers, and the ID community turns a blind eye to it is disappointing. You seem to be suggesting that it is morally right for IDers to use Creationists for political and financial support while conveniently not educating them. "Bah! They've been ignorant for ages - a few more years won't hurt them". Your fear of atheism seems common in Americans, and I find that disappointing too. Atheists are no more likely to be evil than anyone else. As a non-American I find it difficult to comprehend. Australia is a far, far more secular nation and to be an atheist carries pretty much no stigma. Believe it or not, our society is no more morally bankrupt than yours, and I would suggest it is actually slightly less so. To blame Darwin for the much exagerrated "slide into depravity" is to over-simplify the issue and fail to think about other factors - such as the anonymity and isolation that large cities can bring (it's harder to hurt you neighbour if you know them). I know this is exaggerating what you meant but evil didn't enter the world in 1859. There was plenty of rape, murder, incest, prostitution, pickpockets, etc beforehand. If I had to choose to be alive now or be alive in the early 1800s, I know which I would choose. I know which society I would be safer and happier in. I should also say that "Darwinism" is no more atheistic than parasitology, epidemiology, or indeed than any other part of science. And of course there are good, kind people who accept that evolution proceeds without divine tinkering - atheist and theist alike. Similarly there are good and kind people within ID and among Creationists. Religious belief is a poor guide to a person's moral behaviour. MikeFNQ
MikeFNQ, You seem to be trying to start a fight by pitting non-creationist supporters of ID against Creationists in general. I am not a Creationist in the sense of believing that Genesis is the literal word of God. I believe in God and I am a Christian. Many who believe that Genesis is the literal word think the word day could mean huge amounts of time and that one day is not equivalent to the next in terms of time. So these people who are also Creationist would have no problem with discussing the Cambrian Explosion as taking place 520 million years ago. Some obviously would not. I have no ideas what Wells is and did not include him in my list of non-creationists but he discusses the Cambrian explosion and talks about fossils 3 billion years old. Now what has Wells said about evolution in his book or in his video that you think is not rational or well informed. You made an ad hominen attack so please provide some substance to your claim so I can evaluate it. I have read his book and looked at his video and it is standard stuff. If it isn't then tell me what it is and I can try to evaluate it. Maybe I missed something. I have often said here that if ID ever wins the day then the real food fight would begin. It would be a religious debate and this site would then be of no use so it would take place elsewhere. But such debates have been going on for over 2000 years so it would not be new. I happen to think Darwinism is a greater threat than Creationism. We have always had Creationists in our world and it operated just fine. What we haven't had before is wide spread atheism and many of us here believe it is fueled by Darwinism which we all think is bogus. We also think that atheism is harmful to society. So there are two issues underlying this debate, 1) the widespread belief in atheism and all its negative implications and 2) the basis for this widespread belief is a bogus science, which is neo Darwinism. So that is why there is not a debate about creationism here. ID is not about any religious belief other than there is a designer but whoever designed the universe has to be a very powerful intelligence. At the moment we see a common enemy who are using essential sophist arguments to support a bogus science. We do not want anyone specifically in control; we just want the Darwinists out of control. Obviously I do not speak for anyone but myself because there is a broad spectrum in this tent, which you seem to want to tear down. Many of whom I would not agree with on religion but it is science that is the issue here not religion. As I said once ID gets Darwinists out of control, the tent will disappear. Others are free to comment as they wish but this has been my assessment. jerry
So the generation of new genera is "just microevolution"? Evolution within the family is "just microevolution"? If evolution within the family Labroidae is "just microevolution" how about Hominidae? Whenever I see the word "microevolution" used I immediately recognise it as someone drawing a line in the sand that they will just redraw at a different spot later. Microevolution seems to mean "that amount of evolution thus far witnessed in the flesh, and not one bit more... until it is witnessed in the flesh, then we'll start again". But again, my question is why does ID not confront Creationism head on? As reported in an article Dembski linked to in another thread 70% of evangelical Protestants believe that life has always existed in its present form. Even if ID is right, Creationism is a far greater blight than NDE. You say you are not a Creationist. Excellent. Behe is not a Creationist. Excellent. Wells is not a Crea... Oh, bad example. Can we agree that Wells is not rational and well-informed? Now, where does Mr Dembski stand? As a non-Creationist the ignorance of basic life history should scare you. If Dembski and Behe are truly scientists it should scare them too. They should be openly condemning of Creationism. Yet we don't see this. We see them cozy up in the Big Tent. You accuse Darwinism of being full of just so stories, but even if that claim were true, isn't that better than only having "just not so stories"? MikeFNQ
MikeFNQ, Just want to add one thing. What drives most of us here is the majesty of life on Earth. I am amazed at the brilliance of it every time I go outdoors and whenever I read about it or when I travel. The cell is a truly amazing thing. The entire ecology is even more amazing. To trivialize it all by saying the cell, life in general and we, as a species are just an accident of chance is to me the height of ignorance. What drives people to look at such incredibly complex organizations and say it is just an accident. Especially when they have no evidence. Darwin witnessed microevolution in action and extrapolated way beyond the evidence he saw. His adherents have been doing the same ever since but with incredibly more imagination. jerry
MikeFNQ, The Cambrian Explosion is used by many in the ID community to discredit Darwinism so it is hard to say that ID does not believe in an old earth. Stephen Meyer is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and author of several documents on the Cambrian Explosion. Michael Behe is hardly a creationist and neither is Bruce Chapman, the President of the Discovery Institute. Denyse O'Leary, the moderator of this site, writes about old earth topics in her book. Yes, there are several young earth creationists who endorse ID but there are many who don't endorse ID. Of those who post here, I have no idea of the mix but there are both and topics dealing with old earth implications are not shunned. I am certainly not a young earth creationist. It is interesting that you should cite Andrew Parker (In the Blink of an Eye). I have not read the book so I cannot personally comment on it but you should read the review by Simon Conway Morris in the American Scientist. The link is http://www.americanscientist.org/template/BookReviewTypeDetail/assetid/21926 I have made the statement before that neo Darwinism is the only science discipline where imagination counts as evidence and apparently Parker's book is an example. Darwinism is full of "Just So Stories" that are used to justify its conclusions. (Richard Dawkins is the master storyteller and see how British science has rewarded him.) To be fair, I will have to get Parker's book and see just what he says. It will be interesting because Valentine is on record that there is not much there before the Cambrian Explosion let alone a myriad of eyes. As far as I understand there is not one single bit of evidence that natural selection has worked on anything other than trivial microevolution examples. If you have some, then let us know and we can discuss it. The best one can do is say that it might have worked but this is again using one's imagination as evidence. So if you have a peeve, so do I and that is the presentation of assumptions and things that may be plausible as evidence or as demonstrated conclusions. I suggest you read Jonathan Wells and Raymond Bohlin to see what they say about your peeves. Wells discusses in detail the Peppered Moths. No one here doubts the ability of the Peppered Moths to change color. It is basic genetics, which we all agree on. But it is a trivial example. And I mean really trivial. The Rift Lake cichlids are not as trivial but still just microevolution. Bohlin's book, The Natural Limits to Biological Change, is 20 years old but excellent and I understand he is updating it. You don't realize it but you are making our case by only being able to bring up trivial examples and citing imaginative stuff. It is what we see all the time. When confronted with questions of support for Darwinism we get trivial answers. If you think otherwise, then present your examples and we can discuss each but forget the peppered moths or the cichlids as nobody will care because they are not an issue many will disagree with you on. jerry
Otto Schindewolf: Born 1896, Died 1971. RIP. Science progresses. MikeFNQ
Before the Cambrian Explosion The Cambrian Explosion increasingly appears not to be the actual origin of the phyla. As discussed by people such as Andrew Parker (In the Blink of an Eye) and Sean Carrol (Endless Forms Most Beautiful) it is very much starting to appear that the phyla came into existence during the PreCambrian and the early Cambrian. Valentine has also written about some of the existing phyla being present in the PreCambrian and Early Cambrian. Certainly I would agree that more research is required; with fields other than palaeontology set to contribute a great deal. I also want to emphasise that there is no suggestion that the Cambrian Explosion was a brief period of biological time, as was suggested by one respondent. My real peeve I am increasingly irritated by hearing Fundamentalist Christians suggesting that Intelligent Design somehow invalidates an old Earth, or suggests that there has not been a long and slow process of the creation of biodiversity and complexity. ID seems unwilling to stand up to Creationists and say "Hey, evolution has happened. Deal with it." I have extended family who are fundamentalist Young Earth Creationists, and they seem to think Behe (he is the one they seem to refer to most often) have proven Young Earth Creationism. I think ID needs to speak out against anti-evolutionary statements. When Dembski responded to Mayr's statement "No educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we now know to be a simple fact." I would have liked to have seen him say that Mayr is right that evolution has certainly happened; biodiversity and complexity have increased slowly over time, but I question the forces at work in this evolution." The Theory of Evolution is not the statement "evolution happened", and I think this is what Mayr was addressing in that particular sentence. I don't think Mayr would call the NeoDarwinian Synthesis a simple fact, indeed the subsequent discussion of "Darwin's particular theses" makes that pretty clear. I would suggest that Mayr would have been better writing "no well-informed and rational person doubts that evolution has occurred, and calling that fact the 'Theory of Evolution' is grossly ignorant" I would also suggest that no well-informed and rational person doubts that natural selection is a real force, and definitely plays some role in evolution; including the origins of new species, genera and perhaps higher taxa. I would like to see some in the ID movement state that explicitly. Surely studies of biogeography and the work on subjects such as Rift Lake cichlids warrant that much. I would like to see some in the ID community state that the fact that illustrative photos of peppered moths were not 100% accurate in no way invalidates the simple fact that natural selection did indeed result in the increase of the melanic form, and then in the return to the non-melanic form. I would like to see some in the ID community state that while Haeckel's illustrations exaggerated similarity, there is a similarity there and it is strongly supportive of a history of accumulation of changes in the developmental biology of species. Argue that the accumulation was non-Darwinian if you like, but let's at least educate people about the history of life on Earth. In short I would like to see the ID community cease to just attack NDE and publicly agree on those areas of agreement. Yes, the Cambrian Explosion is a remarkable event about which we have much to learn - but it in no way invalidates the fact of evolution itself. Ah... That was cathartic. I guess I just want the Big Tent to be disassembled, and I want the majesty of the evolution of life on Earth to be cherished. MikeFNQ
MikeFNQ, What are your sources for the phyla existing prior to the Cambrian Explosion? That is the point of the term Cambrian Explosion, that all the phyla suddenly appeared out of nowhere in a 10-15 million year period. Here is a long quote from James Valentine's book, "On the Origin of the Phyla." The abrupt early appearance in the fossil record of the remains of numbers of animal phyla has been a famous phenomenon since it was first emphasized by Darwin as a difficulty for his theory. Continued work during the following 140 years has only verified this pattern; most of the major metazoan phyla appear within a geologically narrow window of time during the Cambrian "explosion" about 520-530 million years ago ((Ma). furthermore a variety of unusual fossils appear within this window, indicating that numbers of distinctive major branches of living phyla, and perhaps even more additional phyla, also arose during this explosion, but have become extinct. While the fossil record preceding the explosion is still too poor (or too poorly known) to permit explicit reconstructions of the forms ancestral to the Cambrian phyla, it does provide evidence of some of their behavioral repertoires and grades of organization. This evidence produces important constraints on the sorts of organisms that were present, and thereby significantly restricts the possible phylogenetic schemes. So your claim of PreCambrian Surge is not verified by the foremost invertebrate paleontologist of our time. jerry
You want irony? What do think of Esley Welsberry's perennial signature over at Panda's Dislocated Pollex? "YOU CAN'T TEACH AN OLD DOGMA NEW TRICKS" Dorothy Parker It is hard to believe isn't it? John A. Davison
None of the plant Divisions can be derived from any of the others. They each appeared full blown without obvious antecedents exactly as did their faunal counterparts, the animal Phyla. "We might as well stop looking for the missing links as they never existed." Otto Schindewolf "The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg." ibid The source for both quotes is Richard B. Goldschmidt, The Material Basis of Evolution, page 395. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
Inquisitive Brain You ask: What is gradual about the explosive diversity of almost all phyla of the animal kingdom appearing during the Cambrian in a tiny space of biological time? Actually the Cambrian explosion was a short period of geological time, not biological. It was also preceded by the PreCambrian Surge. Combined you are looking at 80 million years or so. It's a very, very long period of biological time. Almost all of the phyla existed before the Cambrian Explosion - a suggestion otherwise is rather dated and not in keeping with recent discoveries. You make a similar mistake with the angiosperms. We are not talking about short periods of biological time, but short periods of geological time. The differemce is rather substantial. When we look at the fossil record we do see a gradual increase in complexity over time. We don't see a random scatter of organism types through time (rabbits in the Cambrian). There is a progression through time, with body plans being elaborated upon. I still think you are missing my main point. ID, as commonly espoused, agrees that this progression has happened but disagrees on the forces at work that generate it. M MikeFNQ
At seventy eight I would be the oldest Governor in history and probably wouldn't finish my term anyway. Thanks for the apology but don't slip up again. I am a cranky old fool with little to lose and I am afraid of nothing, one of the few virtues of growing old. "Of the few innocent pleasures left to men past middle life - the jamming common-sense down the throats of fools is perhaps the keenest." Thomas Henry Huxley John A. Davison
John, I apologize for suggesting you are currently campaigning for governor when your "Davison for Governor" web page is out of date. If I had scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page -- I read only the first two paragraphs -- I would have seen the date July 4, 2000. Again, I apologize for the error. Tom English
I regard the comment by Tom English to come under the category of a cheap shot and request that it be deleted. My "run for the Governor" was nothing but a device to call attention to the shabby teatment that I had been receiving from the University of Vermont. That was also 7 years ago and my home page was frozen by the University in 2000, the year that I resigned. I resigned the same day, December 1, 2000, that Jeff Gamble did. As Provost he had just granted me a compensatory bonus of 104,000 dollars for the shabby way I had been treated. He left to become the President of the University of Montana. I left to resume my work as a scholar, finally free of the shackles of a bigoted Darwinian ideology, one which I suspect still prevails. I hope that Uncommon Descent doesn't become just another flame blog because if it does I am history. Trust me. John A. Davison
Why bother with peer-review anyway? ID looks like it will always be pushed aside, for whatever reason. Why not rather just invest all that time and effort into using ID notions and predictions to develop some money-making ideas in something like bio-tech? If ID has so much to offer science then surely this wouldn't be a problem. ??? Jon_D
John, "The editors can control what is publsihed in their journals by selecting the referees who will review the submissions." That is exactly what they have to do to run a peer-reviewed journal. Not all biologists are competent to review a given biology paper. The editor (or an associate editor) must select competent reviewers. If you believe that some prospective reviewers are biased against your work, you can explain this to the editor in advance. If you believe that the entire biological community is biased against your work, the editor obviously can do nothing to help you. "It is a terrible system." Well, if your run for governor of Vermont is successful, at least you can reduce the importance of peer-reviewed publication for tenure and promotion at the University of Vermont. Tom English
Denyse, I would like to commend you for your decision to post more differing viewpoints (e.g., the comment above by Tom English). As somebody who genuinely wants to learn more about ID I think this is a very positive step and makes for a more interesting blog! Hopefully it will help ID supporters to understand that there are many people out there are could be sympathetic to ID, but have genuine reservations about how ID is being promoted. I personally would like to see less negative anti-evolution posts on this blog and more positive ones about original research and thinking about ID. Here's a suggestion -- for a week UD should post nothing but original material on ID and avoid the darwinian bashing. timcol
The problem is getting non Darwinian papers through peer review. The editors can control what is publsihed in their journals by selecting the referees who will review the submissions. It is a terrible system. Most editors have abandoned research to influence the lives of others. It was no accident that Mendel published his work in his own journal - "The Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn." It is questionable if it would have survived editorial review in a botanical science dominated by Karl Nageli, the self-styled Czar of European botany. He was sort of the Ernst Mayr of his day! "All great truths begin as blasphemies." George Bernard Shaw "Meine Zeit wird schon kommen!" Gregor Mendel A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
Denyse, How many of your 600 scientists are biologists? How many of them are engineers? I am a computer scientist who, despite working in evolutionary computation for 15 years and despite learning quite a bit about evolutionary biology along the way, counts himself incompetent to pronounce on the work that life scientists are doing. Do you suppose the Discovery Institute would like to add my name to its list? I have seen a number of brilliant and highly educated people do abysmally stupid things when they stepped outside their domains of expertise. Computer scientists make abysmal biologists. Journalists make abysmal biologists. Philosophers make abysmal biologists. Theologians make abysmal biologists. Mathematicians make abysmal biologists. Physicists make abysmal biologists. You described the Discovery Institute as "the tiny American outfit that has put intelligent design theory... on the world map - with no asset other than the insatiable and contumacious hatred of Darwinists..." That's just my point. If the DI really wanted to accomplish something in science, it would round up a batch of biologists and send them to speak at biology conferences, not philosophical / theological meetings like "The Nature of Nature." Those biologists would generate a slew of non-propagandistic scientific papers and do their best to get them through peer review. In any case, they would publish all their work on the web, where it would stand a chance of persuading mainstream biologists to reconsider ID. They wouldn't have much time for political activism. But ID has not taken a course remotely like that. Chunkdz asked, "But are those who put the little Darwin fishies with legs on the rear of their cars really doing so in support of a 19th century naturalist? Or are they making a statement about something else by bastardizing a religeous symbol? The answer will help determine the most effective course for ID to take." Perhaps the answer already determines the course ID is taking. Tom English
Re comment #4: "I think it should be pointed out that even highly educated people can and do believe extraordinarily strange things." Yes, indeed, like spontaneous generation, and that random errors can turn a microbe into Mozart, given enough time. GilDodgen
MikeFNQ -- I'm a naturally inquisitive person, so I have some questions for you: -What is gradual about the explosive diversity of almost all phyla of the animal kingdom appearing during the Cambrian in a tiny space of biological time? -What is gradual about a great number of angiosperms (flowering plants) appearing in the fossil record during the mid-Cretaceous radiation in a tiny space of biological time? "Gradualism is not in opposition to ID." For myself, I would have to disagree with you on this point. Gradualism may be supported by Mayr, but it is in opposition to the facts, right? Inquisitive Brain
Once again we see a stampede to attack NDE without realising the arguments used are in opposition to the scientific side of ID. If one accepts that the fossil record does show changing form and increasing complexity - the descent with modification by an Intelligent Designer, then arguments against the fact of evolution are arguments against ID (as seemingly put forward by the more successful ID theorists - Behe, Dembski et al). We see confusion in here between the fact of evolution and the NeoDarwinian explanation of the process by which some choose to believe it progresses. Gradualism is not in opposition to ID; indeed it would be obtuse for ID to deny a gradual (but not necessarily smooth at a small scale) descent with modification is clear in the fossil record. The argument of ID is not against evolution, it is against the materialistic NeoDarwinist explanation that seems to dominate the Leftist university faculties. The "Big Tent", as the NDEers have labelled it, may be a good place to gather funds for the warchest, but it's not a good place to do, or think about, science. MikeFNQ
I suppose people like Rennie can continue vilifying us as wicked and uneducated. Here is Bill's wish in that regard: The Fantasy Life of Richard Wein
Wein should offer to co-edit it with Wesley Elsberry and possibly Jeffrey Shallit. I would enjoy a title like William Dembski -- Scourge of Science or Intelligent Design Creationism's Great White Hope or perhaps even Neo-Creationism's Lysenko. But I suppose I'd be content with Pseudoscientist of the Century. I'd even be willing to write the afterword.
regards, Visigoth Slick scordova
I had the honor of being mentioned in the comment section of that John Rennie's weblog by an anti-IDist named Orkon:
You can fool the uneducated paranoid fundie rubes in Kansas but you aren't fooling the legions of professional scientists who recognize you, Behe, Dumbski, Moonie Wells, Slick Sal Cordova and The New Dope for the pitiful charlatans that you are. Rennie's Comment Section
Hey, I was listed with Mike Behe, Bill Dembski, Jon Wells and The New Pope! I even got called a charlatan. I'm just an ondinary joe in all this. I feel so honored to be listed among such illustrious names with insults and vitriol to boot. Slick Sal scordova
Isn't the real question "why"? Denyse has documented well the tendency of an elitist science club to hold onto their dogma at all costs, and defend it through even the most vile and desparately unscientific means. But are those who put the little Darwin fishies with legs on the rear of their cars really doing so in support of a 19th century naturalist? Or are they making a statement about something else by bastardizing a religeous symbol? The answer will help determine the most effective course for ID to take. chunkdz
Ernst Mayr also described himself as a "dyed-in-the-wool Darwinian." The Growth of Biological Thought, page 132. "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison "All great truths begin as blasphemies." George Bernard Shaw John A. Davison
I would argue that education is promoting more and more skepticism of Darwinism. I accepted its claims uncritically for most of my life simply on the basis of what I had been told by people whom I respected. Then I read Michael Denton's book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and I was stunned. There were clearly all kinds of problems with the theory that no one I knew had ever mentioned. This was the beginning of my real education. Now, with the Internet and blogs like this one, information that I had to glean from a book is spreading at an unprecedented rate. It is precisely because more and more people are becoming educated on the issue that the Darwinian establishment is in a state of panic, and is resorting to more and more desperate measures to suppress dissent and skepticism. GilDodgen
I think it should be pointed out that even highly educated people can and do believe extraordinary strange things. For example, Dr. Jonathan Wells -- yes, a two-time PhD from well respected universites. Yet...he is also a member of the Unification church. For any objective person who has done even a cursory study of what the Unification church believes, would easily draw the conclusion that this is a very bizarre cult (meets all the hallmarks in fact), based on equally strange and bizarre beliefs. It is not unreasonable therefore to think that there is something rather broken in Dr. Wells thought processes. It may be argued that this is a 'poison the well' argument - but in this case it is more than justified. timcol
When Mayr (I spelt his name right) says 'Educated people'. That must be code for some meaning other than on prima facie we would attribute to the phrase. By Educated I think he means indoctrinated, holding the accepted dogma. Since dogma implies no doubt or contesting of the belief. All we need is the code book. WormHerder
...the gradualism of evolution
WOW! Did Mayr really say that the evidence supports gradualism!? mercy. Scott
No educated person . . . When demonstrably false statements, such as this, are used in debate red flags are raised in the minds of on-lookers. Dembski, Behe, Ronald Reagan et al may be wrong but they are/were certainly educated by even the most twisted definition of the word. tribune7

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