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People’s Choice Awards: Our most read stories in March 2013


Top three in January (here), in February here).

Vince Torley: Could the eye have evolved by natural selection in a geological blink?:

For some time now, Darwinists have been fighting – and generally winning – arguments against critics who contended that Darwinian evolution was impossible. They have won these arguments in two ways: firstly, by identifying a scientific flaw in their critics’ assumptions, which either invalidates their anti-Darwinian arguments or calls them into question; and secondly, by constructing theoretical models showing that a step-by-step evolutionary sequence from a hypothetical ancestor to its modern-day descendants would have been viable at each and every stage, and that each step along the way would have conferred a fitness advantage on the creature possessing it. (Nilsson and Pelger’s 1994 paper falls into the second category.) Both of these tactics have served well to establish the theoretical possibility of Darwinism, as a scientific theory.

These tactics by Darwinists certainly make for splendid PR coups, but what do they actually prove? At the very most, all they prove is that Darwinism is theoretically possible: it might (in a very weak sense of “might”) have happened. But theoretical possibility and scientific plausibility are two very different things. In order for a hypothesis to attain the status of a respectable scientific theory, the mechanisms to which it appeals have to clear a certain threshold of probability, before that hypothesis can be deemed scientifically plausible.

What I’m arguing here is that Darwinism has secured public (and scientific) acceptance by lowering the epistemic bar from the standard usually required of a scientific theory. Most theories gain acceptance only after it has been shown that they are scientifically plausible, in addition to being supported by powerful evidence in their favor. For Darwinism, however, this requirement was waived. After making a strong scientific case that his theory of evolution was supported by converging lines of circumstantial evidence, Darwin managed to win acceptance for his new theory, simply by mounting an argument showing that its mechanism (natural selection) was theoretically possible. This was due in no small part to Darwin’s rhetorical skills: in terms of sheer eloquence, his Origin of Species was unmatched in the annals of scientific literature.

Science, in other words, is all very well in its place, but to cement Darwinism in the public mind, what is needed is less science and a more plausible script.

Barry Arrington: The “Skeptical” Zone, Where You Can Be Skeptical of Anything ( Except Currently Fashionable Intellectual Dogmas):

It seems that the regular posters at TSZ are skeptical of everything but the received wisdom, accepted conventions and cherished dogmas of the academic left. Perhaps they should change the name of the site ever so slightly to The “Skeptical” Zone. The irony quotes would make the name more honest.

Here’s a clue to the TSZ posters: If you want to be a real skeptic, perhaps you should challenge the beliefs of the secular elite that dominate our universities instead of marching in lockstep with them. The true skeptics of the early twenty-first century are those willing to take on the dogmas of the academic elite, people like Bill Dembski, Michael Behe, and Jonathan Wells.

The posters at The Skeptical Zone are skeptical alright. They are skeptical of skeptics. As for their motto, they certainly think it is possible that someone might be mistaken – anyone who disagrees with them or questions their deeply held beliefs.

At the Skeptical Zone, skepticism is a fashion statement. Like khaki on the catwalk. For poses, not pullups.

Barry Arrington: Wow! Just Wow!:

This has never happened to me until today. I made a prediction about Darwinist debating tactics and the prediction was fulfilled in the very post in which I made it!!!

The tale that follows is classic comedy. You may as well enjoy it because your taxes pay for the same sort of rubbish as a commenter tried fronting to Barry to be repeated to students in classrooms. But then it’s not fun, it’s at best a fantasy and at worst a crusade.

Coldcoffee: they win principally by frightening Johnny-goes-home-at-five and Jerry Jesusholler into avoiding any critical questions: Thomas Nagel: “The intelligentsia was so furious [at him] that it formed a lunch mob” https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/thomas-nagel-the-intelligentsia-was-so-furious-at-him-that-it-formed-a-lynch-mob/ News
Chicago, 1913 GARDEN PURITY Inc. A new company specializing in home garden maintenance. A promising new company has started up close to the University of Chicago with the ambitious goal of eliminating all manner of common weeds by way of genetically engineered Fruit Flies which will attack weeds rather than fruit. Using new Darwinian Evolutionary techniques, the new company will develop and market initially to home gardeners, and as the product (the flies) garner credibility year by year, the company plans to market to large farms in the Midwest US. The new company will be initially funded by Coyne Inc. a Chicago based company specializing in the theatrical arts of delusional entertainment. Coyne will provide the initial products necessary for this startup company; products such as radiation chambers, vacuum chambers, cold tanks, hot tanks and a variety of chemicals (such as Sulfuric acid and Phosphoric acid) known for their ability to cause change in organic matter. With the support of a team of Evolutionary Biologists from the nearby University of Chicago, and the very fast production of new generations of fruit flies, usable products are expected to be available in small quantities within the coming year. Chicago, 1914 Unexpected, but not insurmountable, difficulties have delayed the first production run. Chicago, 1915 Unexpected, but not insurmountable, difficulties have delayed the first production run, and the company has shifted to a new chemical evolutionary stimulus package which have shown some initial promise. Chicago, 1916 Still more unexpected, but not insurmountable, difficulties have delayed the first production run, and the company has shifted to a new chemical evolutionary stimulus package coupled with an increase in the radiation dose, and are hoping for some initial promise in the new recipe. Chicago, 1920 Coyne Inc. announces it will cease funding of GARDEN PURITY Inc. The new company is seeking funding elsewhere in the scientific/industrial research community. Chicago, 1929 The collapse of the economy has dried up all funding sources of GARDEN PURITY Inc., and the company is seeking federal research grants to continue development of its evolutionary based weed killing products; the company predicts a breakthrough in the near future. Chicago, 1933 GARDEN PURITY Inc. files for bankruptcy. Chicago, 1935 The assets of the bankrupt GARDEN PURITY Inc. are absorbed into the extensive laboratories of the University of Chicago. It is expected that this move will accelerate the promise of the genetically engineered and improved fruit flies by attracting more "cream of the crop" Evolutionary Biologists to the project. Chicago, 1957 scientists at the University of Chicago Fruit Fly research center announced today the abandonment of it's original goal of genetically engineered Fruit Flies which will attack weeds rather than fruit. The focus will shift to a purely research emphasis with the goal of demonstrating the capability of the Darwinian paradigm to create a truly new, improved and different species of insect. Uses of the new insect will be a continuing and long term focus of the University project. Federal funding for this new project is continued and significantly increased. Chicago, 1996 Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne joins the staff of the University of Chicago and is expected to continue the groundbreaking research of the fruit fly-Drosophila. Although having the same name as the founders of Coyne Inc. - the original funding source of GARDEN PURITY Inc. it is not known if there is a direct family link between the two. Chicago, 2013 Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne seems to have abandoned his scientific career and has instead launched a new career as a professional atheist. It is not known how much, if any, of Coyne's new work is funded by the University of Chicago; nor is it known if Federal grants undergird the Professors new line of inquiry. Inquiries as to whether Professor Coyne has transferred to the Philosophy Department of the university have gone unanswered to date. ayearningforpublius
Meanwhile, perhaps due to the perils of too much punch at the Tuesday nights's festivities, Scientists Get a Little Too Honest... :) Happy New Year! jstanley01
I am not sure how they can win when all they post are insults: =>These are the comments at TSZ when I mentioned ‘Darwin’s doubt’:
Coldcoffee – Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt is an epic piece of Creationist trash written by a borderline scientifically illiterate philosopher. It has been soundly rejected by virtually every professional paleontologist on the planet. There are numerous smackdowns of Meyer’s stupidity and ignorance all over the web.
=> When I asked who refutes Meyer’s work:
Not just me – the entire scientific community has rejected Meyer’s nonsense as the work of an incompetent amateur.
He only raises doubts among ignorant laymen who are gullible enough to swallow his BS. He has raised not a single doubt among professional paleontologists, biologists, or geneticists. You’re his target audience Bubby, not the professional scientific community. He’s a religious propagandist pure and simple and he counts on uneducated types like you to blindly follow his politically motivated crap.
=>When I pointed out that Matzke who reviewed ‘Darwin’s doubts’ was the laughing stock of UD:
Dr. Matzke does indeed toy with the children at UD much the same way a pro baseball player toys with the kids at a little league fun camp. I’m sure you’re impressed when Cordova and Arrington and all the other scientifically illiterate mouth-breathers at UD hurl insults in lieu of rebutting Dr. Matzke’s points.
=> When I gave quotations praising ‘Darwin’s doubt’:
(snip a bunch of hollow praise from another batch of fawning Creationist toadies)

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